Lyrics to Rutgers University's 140-year-old alma mater have been changed to become gender neutral.
Rutgers was an all-male college when "On the Banks of the Old Raritan" was written by two glee club members in 1873. But today, half of the 65,000 students are women so the opening verse — "My father sent me to old Rutgers/And resolved that I should be a man" — doesn't make sense.
"We've had 20 years of intense wave of people upset with the old lyrics," choral activities director Patrick Gardner told The Home News Tribune of East Brunswick. "My thoughts always were, 'Well, how can we get this changed?' And
Gardener said it was not an arduous process. "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 result: "From far and near we came to Rutgers/And resolved to learn all that we can."
The glee club performed the modified version in early September at the university's welcoming event for incoming freshmen and this past Saturday before 52,000 people before the Rutgers football game.
"I know 10 years from now we'll have 10 years worth of alumni and they will look at the other one as just a lovely historical artifact," Gardner said.