The University released a public service announcement video last week urging students and fans to “keep the Good Ol’ Song good” by not adding homophobic words or profanity to the song’s lyrics. The video, which has generated over 86,500 views on Twitter, was broadcast to fans at the Cavaliers’ first home football game of the season on Saturday night.
University President Jim Ryan said in an interview with The Cavalier Daily that the Good Ol’ Song is meant to bring unity to the U.Va. community, but some fans at football games are “turning it into a divisive and offensive chant.” In the 1970s, it became a practice for fans to shout “Not gay!” in the small pause that follows, “We come from Old Virginia, where all is bright and gay.” Petitions and organized protests by students led to the removal of this practice in 2001 — and it was replaced by a “F—k Tech!” chant, referring to U.Va.’s in-state rival, Virginia Tech.
In an attempt to address this, University officials asked several members of the U.Va. community to participate in a public service announcement, including alumna and actress Tina Fey, Prof. Larry Sabato and football Coach Bronco Mendenhall, among others.
"The massacring of The Good Old Song is embarrassing for the University," Sabato said in the video. "It is embarrassing for the people who do it but most of all it is juvenile.”
Ryan said the University received some pushback from people who felt the video campaign was equating the former homophobic slur with the current profanity against Virginia Tech.
“Obviously, one is very different from the other,” Ryan said. “Saying ‘not gay’ — that's really divisive. Saying ‘F Tech’ — that's just not who we are, in terms of sportsmanship. I wouldn't equate the two.”
“In creating the video, we didn't want to say, ‘Well, stop saying one, but go ahead, say the other’ — we wanted to stop both.”
Mike Seay, a fourth-year College student, wrote on Twitter that “F—k Tech is more than slightly better than homophobia.”
“No shade with any of the people who agreed to be in it,” Seay wrote. “Just the the way [it’s] put together seems to imply “F Tech” (harmless) and “not gay” (harmful) are comparable is weird.”
Despite playing the video before Virginia’s 52-17 win over William & Mary, students and fans continued to shout “F—k Tech!” during the Good Ol’ Song.
“I get that it's hard to tell people what to say,” Ryan said. “If it gets those who would be inclined to think that this is just a fun thing to do to think twice about it, it will have helped.”