Harvard University and defended plans to remove the reference to “puritans” of his solemn song, in the framework of the project “inclusion and belonging”.
The proposal to change the stale lyrics of the 19th century, “Fair Harvard” has become a very modern argument about identity and how the universities present their own past.
Harvard University “the presidential task force on integration and belonging” announced a competition to find a replacement for the end of the song, which praises the University’s Puritan heritage: “the bringer of light and bearer of love, till the stock of the Puritans die.”
They want this symbol of identity, Harvard University, sang in the University ceremonies, to refer to something broader and more inclusive than the prudish New England colonists.
But according to the newspaper Harvard crimson, a University, the decision to ditch the reference to the founders of the Puritan seems to have been a warm response among students.
Questions were raised about the relevance of changing the song with the 1830-ies, which have never been a source of controversy.
In Twitter there are complaints about the “edit history” and censorship.
Academic and social commentator Frank Furedi has described him as “mentally disoriented”.
Even if the puritans was once the dominant force, there was no suggestion that lean religious reformers continued to gain an unfair advantage in what is now the world’s richest University.
About half of the latest intake is from ethnic minorities, almost equal proportions of male and female students.
But Professor Danielle Allen, co-chair of the issue of inclusion of the University in force, said in a statement that the symbols and slogans must be appropriate for all”, regardless of origin, identity, religious affiliation or point of view.”
She said that the current text of the song of the University suggested that “commitment to truth, and to be the bearer of his light, a special province of those of Puritan stock. It’s a lie.”
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Prof Allen also said that the song was altered previously, with reference to the “sons” will be changed to something more neutral in 1998.
As well as looking for different words, the University is considering alternative melody or style for a song with a hip-hop version.
This is the last battle for University emblems and language, and the debate about how institutions should balance their historical roots by the need to appeal to a modern, diverse range of students.
They come along with hotly contested debates about “safe places” and “platformer”, with arguments over whether students have the right to block a view they find offensive.
But some student activists have made adjustments.
After lengthy protests, Yale University announced earlier this year that she again in the name of Calhoun College, named in honor of lawyer of the 19th century slavery.
It will now be named after the female computer scientist, grace Murray Hopper.
Harvard falls to the title “house master” because of the connotations of slavery, and ending the use of the seal, which includes the family coat of arms notoriously cruel slave trader.
The University was once the owner of the slaves, and held a number of events and celebrations to explore their own connections with the slave trade.
Georgetown University, in an attempt to come to terms with its own legacy of the slave, promised additional support to enroll in College for any descendants of slaves sold by the University in 1830-ies.
In the UK there were also questions about state symbols and monuments.
Students at the University of Bristol called for the renaming of the building because of claims of historical connection with the wealth obtained from slavery.
University of Oxford-Oriel College was a high-profile dispute over whether the statue of Cecil Rhodes must be removed with the protesters, arguing that the tycoon’s Victorian views on race make him an unsuitable figure to honor the memory of the victims.
But the call for the removal of the statue was rejected.
Oxford University last month announced that it was erected more than 20 portraits to provide more images of women and ethnic minorities were represented on its walls.
The competition in Harvard, to find new words for the song of the University is open until September.
But the debate about University characters will last much longer.