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Football team votes to sing Alma Mater, regardless of outcome

| Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Notre Dame football players will join their peers in singing the Alma Mater after every home game, win or lose, in the 2014 season.

Student leaders, who make up the Unity Council of the Notre Dame football team, met Monday with members of student government to finalize their decision, which had been in discussion within the team for several weeks, according to Irish sophomore receiver Corey Robinson. Robinson also serves as athletics representative to student government.

Robinson said elected representatives from every class year make up the Unity Council, which voices player opinions to the coaching staff. The Council voted unanimously to sing the Alma Mater after every home game, and the team voted “nearly unanimously” in favor, he said.

“I brought this to the Unity Council two weeks ago and we discussed it amongst the team with the students’ [and] alumni’s perspective in mind,” Robinson said. “The team nearly unanimously voted that we sing the Alma Mater win, lose or draw out of respect for what it means to the University and to its students, alumni and supporters worldwide.

“It’s bigger than us and it’s bigger than football. We, as a team, see the Alma Mater as an instrument of unity; we are Notre Dame regardless of what happens on the field. We know how our students fiercely support us rain, shine, sleet or snow and we want to show them our sincere appreciation by standing and singing as a unified student body celebrating our wonderful University.”

Robinson and Irish senior cornerback Matthias Farley met with student body president Lauren Vidal, vice president Matt Devine and Campus Ministry representative to student government Grace Carroll, all seniors.

Although last season’s captains and team decided to sing the Alma Mater only after wins, this season’s Unity Council reopened discussion of the policy because both players and students expressed dissatisfaction with the decision, Vidal said. She said she did not know if the decision would be revisited every year.

Student government researched the policy along with student opinions and presented Farley and Robinson with five copies of a bound book containing direct quotes from students about the Alma Mater, Vidal said.

“The books contain about 100 quotes from the students — each quote represents that student’s interpretation of the alma mater and what it means to them and our University,” she said.

Robinson said the meetings with student government aimed at creating a relationship of mutual respect between the players and the student body.

“We know how our students fiercely support us rain, shine, sleet or snow and we want to show them our sincere appreciation by standing and singing as a unified student body celebrating our wonderful University.”

Members of the football team had expressed concern with past incidents of students disrespecting the football team, Vidal said.

“We students have to stand with [the football players] and part of standing with them is being with them through wins and losses, standing together as a family… and understanding that they are vulnerable,” she said.

Robinson said the team and the Unity Council weighed those concerns as well as student and alumni opinions through “open discussion” as they reconsidered the previous decision to sing the Alma Mater only after wins.

“The respect factor was a big factor for us,” he said. “Of course we don’t want to let you guys down. When we lose it’s embarrassing for us too. We want to support you guys and we want to appreciate you guys.”

Former Irish quarterback Tommy Rees faced boos from the student section during his time with the football team, Robinson said. He said moments like that show how the players are “in a vulnerable position,” even though the majority of fans do not behave disrespectfully.

“There have been times in the past when items have been thrown at us and we have been booed,” Robinson said. “We understand that this is a intense game, but we hope to be treated with respect when we sing the Alma Mater with the student body and fans.”

Robinson said the fans’ commitment to the team through wins, losses and weather — such as the freezing temperatures during the Nov. 23 game against BYU — encouraged the team to decide to continue singing the Alma Mater.

“It’s not about us,” he said. “It’s about the school. It’s about unifying.”

About Lesley Stevenson

Lesley Stevenson is a senior news writer for The Observer after previously serving as News Editor and an Assistant Managing Editor. She is a senior from Memphis, Tennessee, studying Film, Television and Theatre (FTT) and American Studies and living in Breen-Phillips Hall. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @lcstevenson, and visit her website at lcstevenson.wordpress.com

Contact Lesley