Put Your UW Devotion Into Words . . . For $1,000

Nick Perry, Seattle Times, May 9, 2008

The University of Washington is offering $1,000 and a place in history to someone who can come up with a new school anthem.

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The current alma mater, or school song, has never proved popular since it was written in the early 1900s. It even contains a potentially offensive line: “You’re the mother of a mighty race.”

So now the UW is looking for someone to write the lyrics for a new alma mater, preferably a student, faculty member or alum. The words will be put to music by composer Bill Conti, who wrote one of the most recognized film scores ever: “Rocky.”

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McDavid said the only people at football games who know the words to the alma mater are the band members and the cheerleaders—and only because they are required to learn them. For everyone else, the lyrics are flashed up on the big screen.

Even the 1915 fight song, with its reference to the Dardanelles, a strait in Turkey that became pivotal in WWI battles, is a mystery to most fans.

“I think most people know the very beginning, ‘Bow Down to Washington,’ but after that it becomes a lot of ‘Watermelon, watermelon, watermelon,’” McDavid said. “Most students today don’t know what the Dardanelles are.”

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