By Ada Statler
Hundreds of students gathered in White Plaza despite the rain on Saturday in an emotional show of support and appreciation for the Leland Stanford Junior Marching Band (LSJUMB), which was recently notified of its total suspension and subsequent institutional restructuring.
Organizers of the event – both former members of the Band and students who have never participated in LSJUMB – said that they aimed to provide students a space to talk about what the Band meant to them.
“This isn’t just former Band members organizing a sympathy movement,” said one organizer, themself a former Band member. “It’s students who feel the University more seriously needs to respect the notion that students are adults and that there are serious issues, but the University can’t distinguish these or are just choosing to prioritize image over substance.”
According to the organizer, between 300 and 400 students attended the rally and over 20 spoke. Some speakers had prepared words, and others spoke off the cuff. From Stanford Trees to Dollies to Band recruiters, all highlighted how being in Band or watching the Band had encouraged them to be themselves.
“I have so much to be thankful for,” said current Tree Sam Weyen ’18, who also writes a humor column for The Daily from the perspective of the informal mascot. “I love this organization and I don’t know what I’m going to do without it, but what I do know is that the individual people I have met have become more themselves, I have become more myself, and I’m not going to change.”
While most of the speeches focused on the community aspect, there were nevertheless allusions to the reasoning behind the band’s suspension.
One such speech came from Maddie Simons ’19. She discussed her reaction to the Band’s use of sex-related puns and spellings, a practice that multiple Band members say the University has expressed disapproval of.
“Sex is not a bad word,” Simons said. “In a time when misogyny and the objectification of people’s bodies permeates our society, when victim blaming and cover ups replace meaningful discourse and systematic change, the last thing we should be worried about is the admitting that sex is in fact a thing that happens.”
According to the event co-organizer and former band member that agreed to speak to The Daily, there has been significant discussion about the University’s multi-part investigation of the Band in comparison to the “mishandling and mischaracterization” of sexual assault cases, a well as suspicion surrounding the timing of the news.
The organizer added that there was nevertheless a sense of happiness and nostalgia in addition to the determination and sadness at the rally, a sentiment that was also expressed by several of the speakers.
“I may be the last Tree in its current form, but we made a hell of a run,” Weyen concluded.
Contact Ada Statler-Throckmorton at adastat ‘at’ stanford.edu.