The school is suspending "Maryland, my Maryland," usually played by the Mighty Sound of Maryland band during football pregame shows, to "evaluate if it is consistent with the values" of the university, according to school spokeswoman Katie Lawson.
Lawson said in a statement, "As part of the university’s efforts to reaffirm our values as a campus community, we are assessing the songs that are played at intercollegiate athletic events."
Eli Osterloh, the university’s director of athletic bands, said the process began as a discussion amongst school officials in light of the right-wing violence that took place at the recent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
"As a result of the turmoil we all witnessed in Charlottesville, myself, the Athletic Department and President’s Office began a dialogue concerning our state song," he wrote in a Facebook message to band members, University of Maryland independent student newspaper the Diamondback reported. "After much discussion, we agreed that based on the history and lyrics of the song, it should be removed from the repertoire."
A nine-verse war poem set to the music of Christmas carol "O Tannenbaum," the state anthem "Maryland, My Maryland" was written by James Ryder Randall in 1861 as he was grieving for a friend who was shot and killed protesting Union soldiers in Baltimore, calling then-US President Abraham Lincoln a "despot."
The song features lyrics like, "Maryland! She is not dead, nor deaf, nor dumb — Huzza! She spurns the Northern scum!"
Maryland House Speaker Michael E. Busch is calling for a new song altogether, saying in a statement, "Our current state song was chosen in 1939 and was written by James Ryder Randall, a Marylander who volunteered for the Confederate Navy … That said, our job is not to change the lyrics of Randall’s song. The best way to move forward is to identify a more appropriate song for Maryland."
Brian Stance, drum major for the UMD band, told the Baltimore Sun that he supported the suspension, saying the tune is not something he was "too proud to be playing."
UMD student Chris Rogers told the local CBS affiliate, "To be honest, I don’t even know what the tune is. I’d be more upset if they didn’t play the fight song, I think."
This comes soon after Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh ordered the statues of Confederate Generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson removed, as was the Annapolis statue of pro-slavery Supreme Court Justice Roger B. Taney, under cover of night.