Viewpoint: Is 'you suck' chant worth it?

BY ROSS FEDERMAN

Published November 21, 2011

I’m not your traditional undergraduate. I started off here in the fall of 2003 through 2005 before leaving for six years to pursue endeavors in a rock band. I returned this past fall to finish my degree and found most things as I had left them. Classes still start at 10 after instead of on the hour, the Ugg boot and sweatpants combo is still a sorority fashion favorite and, as a bonus, our football team is back to having a winning season. I was surprised however to hear that “lyrics” had been added to Temptation. I’m of course referring to the “you suck” chant.

To the students who may not know, the name of the song you’re chanting over is Temptation, a song dating back well before any of us were born, and one that the Michigan Marching Band has adopted into its repertoire of traditional tunes. This addition came as a bit of a shock to me, but hey, times change, people change. However, I’ve recently been told that due to the chant being sung at basketball games in Crisler Arena, the band won’t be able to play Temptation there anymore. I was a member of the Michigan Marching Band and basketball band during my first couple years here and have just recently returned to the basketball band to play drum set.

Now that Temptation is close to getting cut from the basketball band repertoire, I want to appeal to students (at least those who attend games at Crisler) and to the Maize Rage. There is a reason why they always refer to the “rich musical heritage of the University of Michigan.” They’re not empty words. Michigan’s athletic bands have always been leading the pack in college ensembles, and it’s due in part to the music selection. "The Victors" and "Let’s Go Blue" are undoubtedly the most famous college fight song and stand cheer in the country. Most may not know this, but though you hear “Let’s Go Blue” variations in almost every pro sports arena in the country, it originated here at hockey games. If that’s not a testament to how iconic our athletic band program has been over the years, I don’t know what is.

Our unique arrangement of Temptation deserves the same celebration. Combined with the unison arm movements (chops or claws, or whatever you want to call it), the piece is a powerful force against our opponents. The addition of “you suck” reverses this effect, if anything. It reveals a weakness in the Michigan front, a sign of disrespect and classlessness that we as a university are NOT about and shouldn’t propagate.

We’re supposed to be the “Leaders and Best,” but we’ve lost sight of setting that example in everything we do, not just academics and research. And now because of that, we’re in danger of losing a song that is not only one of my favorites, but such a huge part of the University's musical heritage. Let’s remember to embrace our traditions with a little more respect and dignity. I, for one, would be very sad to see this great piece of music lost to the words “you suck.” Is it worth it?

Ross Federman is an LSA senior.