Harvard University Moves Forward With Removing ‘Puritans’ From Alma Mater Song

Shutterstock/ f11photo

Ian Miles Cheong Contributor
Font Size:

Harvard University is on course for removing “Puritans” from its 181-year-old alma mater song because a line referencing them was not deemed “inclusive” enough for the tastes of its progressive-minded students.

Campus leaders have now released a list of 20 semi-finalists, who’ve come up with suggestions to replace the offensive lines. The picks were trimmed down from 168 entries. The final verse of “Fair Harvard” is as follows:

Let not moss-covered Error moor thee at its side,
As the world on Truth’s current glides by;
Be the herald of Light, and the bearer of Love,
Till the stock of the Puritans die.

According to Harvard’s Presidential Task Force on Inclusion and Belonging, the verse referencing Puritans implies that they are the sole bearers of truth. It takes issue with these connotations. As The Daily Caller previously reported, the task force believe the line “suggests that the commitment to truth, and to being the bearer of its light, is the special province of those of Puritan stock. This is false.”

In an October 3 report, The Harvard Crimson revealed some of the proposals, one of which goes like this:

Brightly shining, ever glorified.
Till the end of the ages draws nigh.
O for this we forever will strive.
Till the darkness of ignorance dies.
Be our haven that never shall die.
While the banners of Veritas fly.
Lest the glory of Veritas die.
For each creature of land, sea, or sky.

Harvard affiliates will be able to comment on the entries and suggest ideas “for advancing Harvard toward inclusion.” Following the comments, semifinalists will be forwarded to a panel of five judges, one of whom is Kurt Crowley, who worked on the Broadway musical “Hamilton.”

The winner will be announced either by the end of the year, or in early 2018. Judges are set to work with a select “line of argument with the pursuit of truth and made clear that it was both constant commitment and one accessible to people of all backgrounds.”

The school newspaper reports that despite the amount of work its participants and organizers are putting into the song’s revision, it “has been met largely with apathy and criticism from students.”

The effort to replace the song’s final verse is part of a greater effort to evaluate Harvard’s historic symbols, some of which have been deemed sexist or racist. In 2015, student activists lobbied the school to remove the seal of Isaac Royall Jr. from Harvard Law School because of the Royall family’s historical connections with the slave trade.

Ian Miles Cheong is a journalist and outspoken media critic. You can reach him through social media at @stillgray on Twitter and on Facebook.