It’s time to hear the rouser again

I was a proud member of the Minnesota marching and concert bands before graduating from the University in 1971 with a degree in music education. I take great pride in the band and my former school.

My first Gophers football game was in 1960. My dear dad brought me to a game at Memorial Stadium, and we stood on the curb of University Avenue together as the traffic stopped and the marching band came down the street, playing the “Minnesota Rouser.” I had no idea bands like that existed, and from sixth grade on, I dreamed only of being in that band. The problem today is that not enough kids in this state are having that same experience.

It is not just about the academic experience at the University but the overall experience for the entire state. I have donated money to the band program and to the Williams Scholarship Program and have been a season ticket holder for Gophers football since I got out of the Army in 1972. While I totally understand the value of the University as “an institution of higher learning,” it is also a business in many regards.

The University is in a conference of schools that are arguably some of the best in the country. So, why is it OK for Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan, Illinois, Northwestern, Michigan State, Indiana and Purdue to strive for excellence in intercollegiate athletics, but at Minnesota we view it as being a sign of “perverse spending priorities”? Why is the University not big enough to support both academics and athletics like every other college?

From this alumnus’ standpoint, it has been far too long since the Gophers left their true home. I have been to every Big Ten campus stadium, and I can tell you the campuses are a beehive of activity on days of home football games. All-day gatherings of fans and alumni are the order of the day. Minnesota has been missing this for far too long.

Rather than criticizing T. Denny Sanford or refusing his generous donation as a matter of principle (what a joke), I take my hat off to him, and say “thank you.” Remember those words? I’ll repeat them for those of you who are not familiar with them. Thank you! A donation is a gift that is given to the cause of your choice. If I want to give a donation to the new football stadium, that is my right, just as it is yours not to, if that is what you choose.

What I find hard to believe is “that in this time of increasing class sizes, rising tuition, pay freezes among faculty and staff and even dismissal of some faculty members,” anybody would actually suggest refusing such a generous gift. I, and many other Gophers fans and alumni, have been waiting far too long to see our football team return to campus. It is time to rectify the mistake that was made 20 some years ago. I long to hear the rouser being played on University Avenue once more.

Rob Marx is a University alumnus and Maple Grove resident.

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