By Victor Xu
On Friday, members of the Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band (LSJUMB) received a notice that the locks to the Band Shak had been changed. The Shak, home to decades’ worth of the Band’s Tree costumes, instruments and memorabilia, was opened for one hour for students to retrieve their personal items.
In a letter to the Band published on Friday, the University announced that the Band has been suspended through spring 2017 and ordered to cease all on- and off-campus activity. The University also explained its intention to restructure the group, which is currently student-run, under a professional music director who will provide direct University oversight.
The Band will not perform, or even exist as an institution, during Admit Weekend or at any sporting events in winter quarter and spring quarter.
Since May 2015, the Band has been under a travel ban and alcohol probation after a joint Title IX and Organization Conduct Board (OCB) investigation found that the Band had violated University policies on alcohol, controlled substances, sexual harassment and hazing.
Members of the Band who found a community in the eccentric student group that may not return in the same form have been left figuring out how to proceed.
“Band is devastated,” said Stanford Tree Sam Weyen ’18. “I’ve cried with maybe 20 separate people tonight. Understand that we didn’t lose a social activity, we lost our home. We lost our hope. Let’s not even talk about the egregious timing with finals knocking at the door. I for one have never felt so empty inside, as the Stanford band was my safe space, my smultronstalle, my everything. I’m left hapless wondering if Stanford actually gives a shit about me.”
Vice Provost of Student Affairs Greg Boardman wrote that the suspension was the result of OCB investigations that found that the Band had violated its travel and alcohol bans, as well as the University alcohol policy. In particular, the OCB panel cited the Band’s behavior during Tree Rollout, a gathering at Treehouse and an unsanctioned trip to Lake Tahoe.
“Each of these violations is concerning,” Boardman wrote in his letter to the Band. “In the aggregate, they show what we feel is a pattern of disregard for university policy and administrative directives.”
The OCB panel recommended a ban through the 2017-2018 academic year, but Boardman said he thought such a punishment would leave the Band “unable to recover and reconstitute itself following such a long hiatus.”
Boardman said he would form a committee to convene during winter quarter. The committee will seek to hire a “music and operations director” and end the Band’s student-run managerial structure.
Boardman wrote, “Our goal will be to recreate a model in which there is collaborative leadership between the Music Director and Band membership, but importantly, in which the Music Director retains final control.”
The committee, jointly convened between the Office of Student Affairs and Stanford Athletics, will also examine the selection process for the Tree and the Dollies and crack down on usage of the Band Shak – which Boardman said was “intended for music rehearsal and performance, not to be a student clubhouse.”
Readers on the Stanford Alumni Facebook page were highly critical of the University’s decision to suspend the Band, and many alumni threatened to withhold donations.
“I never felt more safe and welcome at Stanford than when I was in LSJUMB,” wrote Linnea Tracy ’15 in the comments. “If the university is hoping to crucify a student organization in order to distract from their blindingly misogynistic and evasive responses to the sexual assault epidemic on campus, they are grossly deluded. We have not been distracted, and we will survive. The winds of freedom will blow again.”