​LETTER: Reclaim the 'Good Old Song'

Current University students must make a renewed effort to eliminate the most recent marring of the Good Old Song

To the Editor:

As fall arrives in Charlottesville, we ask students to pause and consider a recent alteration to the Good Old Song, a beloved tradition on football Saturdays at Scott Stadium. As young alumni, we arrived on Grounds in the mid-2000s as Student Council wrapped a multi-year campaign to eradicate a homophobic interjection after the line, “We come from old Virginia / where all is bright and gay.” With the University garnering national TV audiences during the football program’s 1990s glory days, students recognized that what might be attributed to drunken immaturity ought not represent the University.

A generation later, students have again taken to yelling out at the same moment in the song, with most directing a profane slur toward another in-state school. From our new sections in Scott Stadium and John Paul Jones Arena, or as we watch from states away, we submit two sad realities of this behavioral trend: first, as students’ shouts are muddled to other sections, many interpret them as, and are partaking in, a revival of “not gay!” Second, as a unique tradition of The Dear Old University dating back to Edward Craighill’s transcription of the Good Old Song’s lyrics ca. 1893, it would boggle Mr. Jefferson’s mind to cede any thought during our celebration to another institution.

“In little disputes with your companions, give way, rather than insist on trifles.[…]Above all things, and at all times, practice yourself in good humor.[…]Nothing gives one person so great advantage over another, as to remain always cool and unruffled under all circumstances.”

If you watched last fall’s basketball matchup in College Park, then you surely heard the Maryland student section unleash an unmistakable profane chant toward University players and fans. If you’ve attended Maryland athletic events, you’re probably also familiar with their derogatory take on the “Hey Song” and propensity to wear t-shirts that can’t be shown on TV. We sincerely hope students who have the opportunity to spend their undergraduate careers in Charlottesville will avoid following such a model of conduct; it will be a sad day indeed when couches burning in Mad Bowl show up on BuzzFeed. Having matriculated at the Academical Village, you transcend the sentiment couched in the vulgar interjection now plaguing us.

“Above all things lose no occasion of exercising your dispositions to be grateful, to be generous, to be charitable, to be humane, to be true, just, firm, orderly, courageous, etc. Consider every act of this kind as an exercise which will strengthen your moral faculties, & increase your worth.”

Of course, as alumni, we respect and value student self-governance. It will not be letters to The Cavalier Daily that engineer change; rather, it is our hope that institutions across Grounds, from Student Council to Hoo Crew to orientation leaders, will share and champion the desire to eradicate the latest marring of the Good Old Song. We believe University undergrads can stand and deliver the original lyrics, for Craighill’s work needs no addendum; certainly neither a homophobic over-share nor classless expletive. When you’re in the student section and hear something, say something.

Finally and once more, as any campaign on Grounds must, we close with the words of our founder:

“Ask yourself how you would act were all the world looking at you, & act accordingly.”

Wahoowa,

Eric Ball, CLAS ‘08

Brooke Bandy, COMM ‘09

Joseph Cralle, CLAS ’09, Curry ‘09

Caitlin Dean, CLAS ‘09, Curry ‘09

Jay Du-Sauzay, COMM ’08

Erin Erickson, CLAS '08

Jonathan Falk, CLAS ‘07

Amanda Fulwood, CLAS ‘09

Sarah Glendon, CLAS ‘09

Kenton Griffin, CLAS ‘07

Shannon Twyman-Ward Griffin, CLAS ‘06

J.R. Hadley, owner, Boylan Heights

Patrick Harding, COMM '08

Tyler Wallace Harding, COMM '08

Maureen Hollar, CLAS ‘08

David Hondula, CLAS ‘06, GSAS ‘09, ‘13

Kelly Hondula, CLAS ‘09, GSAS ‘12

John Howard-Smith, CLAS '08

Bart Isley, CLAS ‘05

Kenny Lai Cheong, SEAS ‘08

Temple Lee, CLAS ‘07, GSAS ‘11, ‘15

Lindsey Long, CLAS ‘07

Emerald Midkiff-Skaggs, CLAS ‘09

Stephanie Passman, CLAS ’09, Curry ‘09

Logan Riddick, CLAS ‘07

Melissa Scott, CLAS '90, Curry '90

Emily Walton, Curry '13

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