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Harvard University to change 180-year-old alma mater in the name of 'inclusion' and 'diversity

Harvard University intends to change its alma mater for the sake of inclusivity. (Getty Images/Darren McCollester/Newsmakers)

For more than 180 years, Harvard University has had as part of its alma mater a reference to the "Puritans" who founded America. Now, the university is scrubbing the religious mention in the name of "inclusion" and "diversity."

Danielle Allen, who serves as co-chair of the university's Presidential Task Force for Inclusion and Belonging, announced plans Wednesday to change the last line of the "Fair Harvard" alma mater, which currently reads, "Till the stock of the Puritans die."

Fair Harvard! we join in thy Jubilee throng,

And with blessings surrender thee o’er

By these Festival-rites, from the Age that is past,

To the Age that is waiting before.

O Relic and Type of our ancestors’ worth,

That hast long kept their memory warm,

First flow’r of their wilderness! Star of their night!

Calm rising thro' change and throv storm.

Farewell! be thy destinies onward and bright!

To thy children the lesson still give,

With freedom to think, and with patience to bear,

And for Right ever bravely to live.

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.

Harvard President Drew Faust created the task force in September. According to the Harvard Crimson, the university's student newspaper, the group was "tasked with evaluating Harvard’s efforts to create an inclusive environment and recommend improvements."

At a campus event Wednesday titled "Afternoon of Engagement on Inclusion and Belonging," Faust explained the decision to change the nearly two-centuries old alma mater: “Diversity, inclusion, and belonging are fundamental to our missions and to our identity and essential for creating a better university, and the responsibility for that is one shared by students, faculty, and staff."

In addition to changing the last line of the song, Harvard is also seeking to add "an endorsed alternative" alma mater.

"The goal is to affirm what is valuable from the past while also re-inventing that past to meet and speak to the present moment. The inspiration is 'Hamilton.' The point is to use your imagination," the university task force states on its website.

The task force is calling on students to submit entries for how it should rewrite the last line of its current alma mater. The group is also asking for suggestions for it's "endorsed alternative." The deadline to submit entries is Sept. 15.

As Campus Reform reported, this is not the first time Harvard University has changed its alma mater.

In 1998, it opted to replace the word "sons" with "children" to make it more "gender inclusive." As the task force pointed out, however, "they left the final line as it was." The task force, on its website, added, "we think it’s time for a change."

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