Rally all of Notre Dame
Kyla Wargel and Cody Gaffney | Sunday, September 18, 2011
The “greatest of all university fight songs,” the Notre Dame Victory March, is a powerful expression of school spirit, but it does not currently reflect the totality of the Notre Dame student body and athletic teams.
Composed in the early 1900s, the Notre Dame Victory March was not intended to be the university’s official fight song, but an example for future composers. Now performed at all university athletic events, the song was composed before the rise of Notre Dame football, when baseball was much more popular. At the time of the song’s authorship, the lyrics reflected the all-male student body. The lyrics were not updated following the admission of women in 1972, though the song was subsequently used at women’s athletic events. We believe that the Victory March should be made more gender-inclusive by replacing male-oriented language with gender-inclusive language. We suggest replacing “Rally sons of Notre Dame” with either “ones” or “all of Notre Dame,” and “while her loyal sons are marching onward to victory” with “loyal ones” or “loyal sons and daughters march on to victory.” These changes would reestablish the original intention of the Victory March: to represent all students and athletes.
Some may argue that altering the Victory March would constitute an impermissible break with tradition. However, since the Victory March was first published, the lyrics have already undergone some minor changes. Though some students and alumni may feel that altering the Victory March is too progressive, we argue that this is an opportunity for the university to affirm its commitment to gender inclusiveness and human dignity. When the university publishes the lyrics of the Victory March, they are accompanied by a footnote stating that some have adopted a gender-inclusive version of the song, although no actual modifications are printed in or below the text. Although the first verse of the Victory March remains under copyright, the second verse of the Victory March is part of the public domain. We therefore encourage the university to publish a modified version of the second verse and the student body to embrace the modified lyrics of both verses.