Is it propaganda or school spirit?
It’s noon at the University of Arizona and the familiar sound of Old Main’s bell rings. Just after the bell, at 12:02 p.m., the school’s fight song plays from the administration building. The song is just loud enough that you turn your head out of curiosity to look for the source of the music, but quiet enough that your headphones easily block out the song.
I had been going to the university for almost a year before I heard the song over the speakers. The recording is played by an overly excited pep band with lively trumpets and drums leading the song’s chorus. The quality, however, dates itself. It sounds as though you switched on an old radio and a melodramatic-British announcer voice comes on telling folks to stay tuned while we play the University of Arizona’s fight song.
I'm a millennial, after all, so anything that doesn’t have a clear sound is off-putting. The muffled clangorous recording reminds me of North Korean propaganda music. I look behind me to see if any students are marching, maybe saluting a subliminal object. Instead, it's just me with the most discombobulated meme face you can imagine.
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The fight song has been playing at noon since the late 70s, if not earlier, said Larry Jones, Assistant Director of Facilities Operations.
Dr. Robert Torres, who has taught Heritage and Traditions at the university, said there are no formal records, but the decision to play the song likely came from the school’s president at the time. "The reasoning is to cultivate a sense of 'place' and 'belonging' for students while navigating the mall area when getting to class, as well as to display school spirit," he said.
Karissa Pottorff, a graduate in cellular and molecular medicine, used to play the piccolo in the marching band. She said she enjoys hearing the fight song every day.
“I feel like the song shows our school pride.”
Other students didn't seem too affected by the song either way.
“I don’t mind it too much," said Christopher Trent, a freshman biology major. "Like, I don’t pay attention to it really. When I hear it, I’m like yeah I like it. I think it's catchy.”
Freshman Delcie Coulter, a physiology major, said she’s never heard it being played around campus before.
“I kind of don’t care because it’s our school and it’s the theme song so if they want to play it, play it," she said."I feel like it’s not bothering me, I mean I haven’t heard it since I’ve been going here so I don’t think it’s that big of a problem.”
However, I'm not the only one who thinks it's weird.
David Douglass, a sophomore in pre-business, feels troubled by the whole thing.
“It reminds me of propaganda of some sort," he said. "It’s like they're instilling it in us and we're just walking around listening to it subconsciously. It just weirds me out.”
I may be over the top about my concern for the whole thing, but it’s not going to stop my mind from taking me to a quintessential Communist country, basically leaving me trapped in my own version of George Orwell’s "1984" for two minutes, until the song ends and realize I’m late for class again.
Sammy is a senior who is interested in checking out Communist countries, but she’ll be wearing noise-canceling headphones just in case.
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