As the football team gears up for their season opener against Ohio State on Saturday, fans will sing the “Notre Dame Victory March” as they root for the Irish. This year, however, the last two lines of the 114-year-old fight song will sound different.
The song’s concluding lines previously sang, “While her loyal sons are marching / Onward to victory.” In June, however, the University announced that the lyrics would be changed to, “While her loyal sons and daughters / march on to victory.”
Many students and faculty were pleased to see the song’s update.
“It’s been a long time in coming,” English professor Romana Huk said in an email. “I think it’s a sign of [Notre Dame’s] ability to think forward, to be responsive to the need for change.”
First-year Dylan Devezin pointed out that even though the song is a valued tradition, traditions themselves are capable of change.
“Allowing women on campus was a big change in the normal Notre Dame tradition, so I believe other things surrounding that should change, as well,” he said.
Sophomore Emma Schoenauer said she understood the importance of tradition, but felt the updated lyrics were necessary.
“I think a lot of things stay the same because they’re tradition,” she said. “But I think that because it did change, that was a positive thing.”
Maggie Borgos, a first-year master’s student studying English with a gender studies graduate minor, said allowing traditions to change is important.
“Yes, we’re rooted in tradition, but we’re also really rooted in creating new traditions,” she said. “I think this change will be part of that.”
Junior Jack Wagner was excited that more Notre Dame students could now feel like they fit in.
“I think it’s good that they’re being more inclusive with it so more people can relate,” Wagner said.
First-year Bella Dillhoff was also happy to see the lyrics change, but felt the University should have changed it to “children” to include non-binary individuals.
“They should have added ‘daughters’ a long time ago, and now they could just change it to include everyone,” she said.
Much of the community saw the update as overdue.
“I thought that the change was a little delayed considering the Title IX Gender Equity Act was passed in 1972,” sophomore Brooke Collins said.
To Collins, it was “disrespectful to the women athletes that have been fighting for the reputation of this university and upholding it for so long.”
Borgos said that the update is an important change following Title IX.
“I think, given that it has been like 50 years since Title IX was passed, this is amazing,” Borgos said. “It is a great way to celebrate where Notre Dame is going in terms of greater inclusivity and representation of all students on our campus, so I’m pretty excited about it.”
After the fight song stayed the same for so long, sophomore Jessica Vickery was skeptical that fans will be able to adjust to the change.
“It was unexpected and something that probably won’t stick just because everyone’s used to just saying ‘sons marching on,’” Vickery said.
Vickery also said that because fans sing the fight song in support of the all-male football team, the addition of “daughters” as a lyric isn’t necessary.
“It’s us cheering on the football team, and it didn’t have to become a whole kind of political thing by adding women into it,” she said.
Sophomore Ava Nelligan was especially critical of Notre Dame for past transgressions regarding Title IX.
“They are overhyping the decision that they’re making rather than taking actual steps to protect women on campus,” she said. “The performative step of adding two words to a song is not nearly enough to address Notre Dame’s failings.”