SALT LAKE CITY — After more than a century of singing "I'm a Utah Man," some say it's time to update the University of Utah's 1904 fight song.
Proposals to adjust such lyrics as "I'm a Utah man" and "our coeds are the fairest" have spiked emotions on campus in recent weeks.
Critics say the lyrics are sexist. Others contend that the current refrain honors tradition and has sentimental value for classes of alumni. Similar debates have popped up at schools across the country.
At the University of Utah, President David Pershing is asking the Office of Student Affairs to put together a committee that will weigh changes to the song, "Utah Man" after student government leaders and a faculty body passed resolutions urging the changes.
The university seeks a new refrain "that respects the variety of views across our university community," Pershing said in a Monday statement.
Hundreds of emails regarding the fight song have flowed into Pershing's inbox in recent weeks, he said.
The faculty's Academic Senate threw its support behind the effort on Monday after the Associated Students did the same in April.
Pershing says any modifications to the 1904 tune must strike a balance between tradition and inclusion. He's asking students, faculty, staff, alumni and others to suggest new lyrics through May 31.
University alumni have floated changes to the song in recent decades, but the efforts stalled after others said they like the current tune.
"Utah man" could become "Utah fan," some have said, but no specific changes have officially been proposed.
"In 2014, people are advocating for equality on all fronts, so hopefully this is a reflection of that change," Associated Students President and social work student Sam Ortiz said in April.