Rutgers’ 140-Year-Old Alma Mater Anthem Lyrics Changed; Now Gender Neutral

By , UniversityHerald Reporter

Patrick Gardner, Director of Choral Studies at the Rutgers University, has altered the 140-year-old alma-mater's anthem lyrics to reflect the current student population. The university which was predominantly an all-male college in its initial years, evolved into a coeducational public research university in 1972.

'On the Banks of the Old Raritan,' the university's alma mater was written by two Glee Club members in 1873, when Rutgers was an all-male college. At the time, the opening verse - 'My father sent me to old Rutgers/And resolved that I should be a man,' was appropriate.

Currently, the female students across the university's several campuses make up 53 percent of the total 65,000 student population.

Hence, keeping up with the present status, the opening verse was changed to resemble gender-neutral lyrics - 'From far and near we came to Rutgers/And resolved to learn all that we can'.

"We've had 20 years of intense waves of people upset with the old lyrics," Gardner said. "My thoughts always were, well, how can we get this changed? And that thought has developed along with many past members of the Glee Club who are now alumni. This has been a issue for as long as I've been here, and I just figured it was time for us to step forward with something. We're leaders in song at the university, and it was time for us to lead this."

"I can't say it was an arduous process," Gardner said. "While I knew rewriting the opening lines would be controversial, so many people felt very strongly that that 'My father sent me to old Rutgers' line had to be changed.

"I'm a good example: My mom went back to work so she could get all five of her kids through college; it wasn't just my father sending me to my university. That really resonated with me."

The glee club performed the modified version for the first time at the university's convocation, August. They also performed in front of a vast 52000 crowd before the Rutgers football game,Saturday.

"Being this is such a diverse student body, we felt strongly that the alma mater, as much as we may hold the historical context dear, we can't deny that Rutgers is no longer an all-male university - so the opening verse really was no longer applicable," said Austin Tamutus, a junior who presides over the all-male Glee Club.

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