August 20, 2019 | 81° F

Changes to lyrics of alma mater should have been decided with community input

Letter to the editor

The Rutgers administration has passively endorsed the lyrical revision to the Rutgers alma mater, “On the Banks of the Old Raritan.” This autocratic action taken by a small selection of faculty and students has me scratching my head. If the powers that be want social change to happen without serious controversy, shouldn’t the administration see to it that there be an opportunity for broad input from the University community? Would it not be prudent to at least pay lip service to the alumni base that support Rutgers financially? The overt willingness to alienate so many by excluding them from this process is frustrating and confusing. “On the Banks” is one of few traditions that connect us to our alma mater — altering its text risks sacrificing the personal affiliation one feels with Rutgers. Alter it in despotic, almost sneaky fashion and you all but guarantee this severing. Those in favor of change argue that the song should better represent the University community. How strange that the opinion of that community is not being sought in any kind of open forum. This will be at the front of my mind when Rutgers University Telefund comes calling this year.

Jeffrey Smith is a 2009 Mason Gross School of the Arts alumnus.

By Jeffrey Smith

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