October 13, 2006

What the band did.

Stephen Bainbridge asked what the UW Marching Band did to rile the administration here. Gordon Smith answers. It really is quite bad, not the kind of vigorous but offensive speech we've been fretting about lately in the context of the "Think. Respect." program.


yetanotherjohn said...

The band may want to take some notes from the Rice "mob" (Rice's version of the band). They tend to do their "acting out" as part of the on field presentation. I remember one where they formed themselves into an oblong shape. The leader on the microphone then told them to stop. He scolded them for forming such a disgusting phalic object and apologized to the audience for being subjected to it. One band member from each side of the object traded places. He then thanked them for forming the nice and proper cigar, someone lit a smudge pot on one end and the band broke into "smoke gets in your eyes".

On another occasion the Rice mob performed a satire of the Texas A&M aggies at the aggies home stadium. Given that the aggies provided more generals to the US army than west point during WWII and have continued their military traditions, this was possibly not the smartest thing to do. A large crowd of aggies formed outside of the dressing room for the band and there was considerable concern as to how the mob would traverse the 100 yards to their buses without receiving grevious bodily injury. Their solution was to pick up instruments, play the star spangled banner and march to their buses. The aggies could not bring themselves to jeer, let alone physically attack while the national anthem was being played.

What the band is showing is boorish behavior. The best remedy is for the band to restrain itself. In part this comes from the misguided notion that there are no absolute right and wrong behavior, so all behavior, even boorish behavior should be tolerated. I would think a much better remedy would be to give the band rights to vote with secret ballot to remove members who act in an uncivilized way. Then the "silent majority" could police their own ranks. Even with out this, the band members who were hazed should be using their influence to break the cycle when they are the seniors.

Dusty said...

I think its important to note though, in the band's defense, that many of the incidences that were described took place in the past. It sounds like the chancellor became upset over the nicknames given to new members of the band and is now bringing up every transgression the band has committed in the past 5 years.

Goesh said...

It sounds like so much fun. I really like the part about shirt swapping and making the newbies fetch beer.

Freeman Hunt said...

That's terrible. I don't understand why any of these women would have gone along with any of it.

Coco said...

And all along I've thought the line, "This one time, at band camp...." was funny becuase nothing ever happended at band camp.

Fritz said...

Here is a thread idea, UC's Law Professor wrote: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/chi-0610100318oct10,0,1779585.story

2 Respond
Brainbridge http://www.tcsdaily.com/article.aspx?id=101306B

Kling http://www.tcsdaily.com/article.aspx?id=101306A

JohnF said...

One of the listed offenses is "Demeaning and abusive demands for younger band members to run errands and refill beer cups for older members."

I don't get it. It just sounds like normal life for starting associates at law firms.

The other stuff, not so much.

George said...


You are quite gentle in characterizing the band's conduct as "quite bad."

If what Gordon Smith says is accurate, it is depraved.

Quite depraved.

The linked press release says problems have existed for years under the same band leader.

Solution: Fire him.

Interesting that one of the college's solutions is to spend more money to rent a second bus for women.

Translation: We have no ability or interest in controlling the male students, so we'll segregate you.

That's like police telling blacks in the 1930s, "You have to use separate facilities, because we can't control these crazy white people. You do understand, don't you? It's for your own good."

Next step: Buy the cheerleaders burkahs.

If there is reason to believe female students have been assaulted (items #1 and #2), the police should investigate.

RogerA said...

Wow--these guys make the Duke lacross team look like saints.

Mortimer Brezny said...

This is offensive? I dunno, it sounded amusing to me.

No one was physiciallly injured, raped, assaulted, battered, or taken for their cash. No one was singled out for their race, ethnicity, religion, etc.

Everyone who complied with the hazing, which was in good fun, got in, I gather. No one was defrauded.

So what's the problem? It's just sex-tinged fun. This just sounds like a good party.

PatCA said...

I guess Wiley's claim that he had stamped out offensive behavior at UW deserves a closer look--and more than a few secret bias accusations! Show trials and banishment to reeducation camp to follow.

Actually, the university is beginning to remind me of Catholic school of yore. Kids were so regimented and repressed that they went nuts given even an inch of freedom.

Seven Machos said...

I don't want to excuse the behavior. It must be changed. However, this is really just typical college student behavior. Other than the admittedly problematic aspect of having men and women involved at the same time, it's no different than what goes on every semester for pledges getting hazed.

Think about this, though: The radicals of the 60s set out to revolutionize and overturn all the outdated rules of campus behavior and useless societal norms. Today's administrators -- almost certainly aging 60s radicals and people who basically think like aging 60s radicals -- will institute a certain set of semi-draconian to draconian rules and norms and mechanisms intended to end this boorish behavior. In terms of results, how will these semi-draconian and draconian rules be any different than the pre-60s semi-draconian and draconian rules that the now-aging radicals set out to overtun?

This is the exact reason why I am a conservative.

Anonymous said...

If it wasn't for Stephen Bainbridge, I wouldn't know Ann Althouse ever existed.

On the topic, hazing is a complicated issue. Not for me, really; I'd tell them to shove it, and I'd be disinterested in dishing it out, too. But that doesn't mean everybody would.

One submits to hazing. There is a social contract being struck; I'll allow you to make a fool of me in return for a sense of belonging and cameraderie. The idea of a test of a threshold of ignominy or distress followed by acceptance in a group isn't that hard to ken. It like counting coup on the plains. There is a football school in Texas, I think, where the players brand each other with a heated, bent coat hangar. They willingly submit to it. That's hardcore, ain't it?

But this, like many social contracts, is being corroded. Foolishness has yielded to vulgarity, vulgarity to depravity; and then it was just a short trip from there to actual assault.

All in all, just like most band geek things, it struck me as kinda lame, too.

This, and Kevin Barrett, is what you get if you're a parent, with tuition being the equivalent of driving a Mercedes into a lake every year?

The University of Phoenix is going to make you guys look like the overgrown grade school you're becoming if you keep it up.

And the "anything goes but everything's forbidden if someone snitches campaign" is just as lame. Grow a spine and enforce some standards of decorum.

You know; like adults.

Pogo said...

Re: "how will these semi-draconian and draconian rules be any different than the pre-60s semi-draconian and draconian rules that the now-aging radicals set out to overtun?"

Ah, a trick question.
Answer? They won't, except that the rules will be made by a different power. The power,rather than the rules per se, was the actual goal.

J said...

Yeah, but are they forced to sell candy door to door?

Anonymous said...

J gets the golf clap, wins thread.

Mortimer Brezny said...

I don't want to excuse the behavior. It must be changed. However, this is really just typical college student behavior. Other than the admittedly problematic aspect of having men and women involved at the same time, it's no different than what goes on every semester for pledges getting hazed.

What is wrong with the behavior and what's wrong with men and women doing it together?

DannyNoonan said...

"This, and Kevin Barrett, is what you get if you're a parent, with tuition being the equivalent of driving a Mercedes into a lake every year?


Grow a spine and enforce some standards of decorum. You know; like adults."

Because nothing is more adult than letting mommy and daddy pay for your school.

Seven Machos said...

Mortimer --

If you are in the band, there is a good chance that you have a scholarship, even if it is just a token thing. Therefore, you have money on the line and need to stay in the band. There is financial pressure to submit to hazing.

Also, the band isn't like the Alpha Betas. It is subsidized by the University. Therefore, unlike with the Alpha Betas, if there is a lawsuit and the plaintiff wins, the University will end up paying.

For these two reasons, and probably many other ones that I could think of if given some time, the recipient of any kind of sexual humiliation within the context of the band acting as the band has a sexual harassment case.

Ask yourself this:

1. If your boss at work told your female colleague to suck on a sex toy, would that be something you would want to continue at your workplace? Should it continue?

2. If your boss asked two women colleagues to kiss each other so that they could pee, would that be sexual harassment? Could a jury find it as such?

3. What about someone taking over your dorm? Remember: you can't quit the band if you want that $1000 per year.

4. What if your boss asked you to swap shirts? Would that be something you want to happen at your job?

Obviously, some people felt uncomfortable enough with this behavior to report it to university authorities. It seems clear that this has been happening over a long period of time. Clearly, the University knows about it.

There are moral implications here. Upperclass students have de facto positions of "authority." That's the way college works. Using that authority to compel students to behave in ways they don't want to behave is morally suspect. But forget all that if you want. People who have to face all this can sue (because of the moral reprehensibility of what is happening).

George said...

We live in an age of anarchy, both abroad and at home. We see mindless attacks on all the great institutions which have been created by free civilizations in the last 500 years.

Even here in the United States, great universities are being systematically destroyed. Colleges find themselves under attack from within and from without.

If, when the chips are down, academic leaders in the world's most powerful nation, the United States of America, act like pitiful, helpless giants, the forces of totalitarianism and anarchy will threaten free institutions throughout the world.

It is not our power but our will and character that is being tested. The question all Americans must ask and answer is this: Do the richest and strongest universities in the history of the world have the character to meet a direct challenge by groups of students who reject every effort to promote mature behavior, ignores our warnings, and trample on solemn codes of student conduct?

If we fail to meet this challenge, all other nations will be on notice that despite its overwhelming power, America's universities, when a real crisis comes, will be found wanting.

4/13/70. Nixon. The Cambodia Speech.
(With a few revisions....)

Old Dad said...

Warning--blatant sexism follows.

My guess is that 90% of the hazing was perpetrated by young males. Back in my day, females were perfectly capable of outrageous behavior, but they didn't haze one another. They gossiped, back stabbed, etc.

The administration needs to jerk a knot in the band's collective tail. Separating the men from the women makes sense--the guys obviously can't control themselves, and apparently the band has no interest in helping them control themselves.

If I were in charge, I'd probably go with a zero tolerance rule, and then kick the perps out next time it happened.

Besides there are perfectly repectable private institutions where guys can act like idiots--they're called fraternities.

Oh, and bring back in loco parentis.

Coco said...

"Today's administrators -- almost certainly aging 60s radicals and people who basically think like aging 60s radicals"

I'm thinking this is pure BS unless you're defining radicals so broadly as to mean young people or anyone who was in college at the time, went to some protest rally - however frivolous, or grew some sideburns. But as far as actual "radicals," meaning were involved in political acts of violence or was involved in a group advocating revolution, I doubt many of them are actual college administrators. And I "certainly" wouldn't assume that most are or think like that.

"The University of Phoenix is going to make you guys look like the overgrown grade school you're becoming if you keep it up."

Isn't this the online university where most people take classes virtually over the net and is marketed primarily to working adults? If so, I think your claim is a good one...but only becuase the students won't actually be in contact with each other and are grown-ups anyway.

Seven Machos said...

Oh my God, Coco. I would bet you any amount of money that an overwhelming number of the deans and professors with seniority at the University of Wisconsin are aging 60s radicals.

What do you think happened to those people? No offense to our wonderful and brilliant host (being a professor would be my dream career), but it's not like they went out and got real jobs. They got their Ph.Ds and they began the long march through the institutions as professors and administrators at elite universities.

Anthony said...

The Athletic Department has allocated funds to allow cheerleaders and the dance squad to travel in separate buses whenever possible, so they will not be subjected to harassment by the band.

Forget archaeology. I'm-a-gonna become a bus driver. . . .

If it wasn't for Stephen Bainbridge, I wouldn't know Ann Althouse ever existed.

Ya know, this struck me as I can't remember where the heck I ever learned about our esteemed hostess. I'm guessing an Insta-link, but for the life of me I can't recall why or how I came here in the first place. I'm a UW alum, sure, but I don't know if it was a Wisconsin angle either.

MadisonMan said...

seven, you can read their bios at www.wisc.edu. I'm not sure of your definition of aging 60s radical, but I don't think it's a safe bet.

Wade_Garrett said...

Oh please, with the talk of 60's radicals. Any time any unflattering story appears about any of the universities with which I've been associated -- Yale, SUNY-Buffalo, and the University of Wisconsin -- conservatives blame the entire thing on the 'aging 60's radicals' that they assume run the school. I don't know where or how to begin tearing that apart. First of all, the schools are not run by 60's radicals. Secondly, even if they were, do you seriously think that 60's radicals would be LESS sympathetic to sexual harassment charges than right-thinking conservatives? Please.

This hazing rituals clearly crossed the line. When I was an undergraduate, many student organizations were busted for 'hazing,' sometimes for events as mild as throwing a keg party and inviting the freshmen to attend. The administration's argument was that hazing means subjecting subordinates to situations in which they might be uncomfortable, and inviting a freshman who doesn't like to drink to a beg party might make him uncomfortable (he might have to choose between fitting in and his own morals) and therefore, inviting freshmen to a keg party is hazing. It sounds silly, but that actually happened. For what its worth, everybody knew that certain wealthy fraternities and high-profile, revenue-producing men's sports teams had far worse hazing rituals than any of the organizations that got busted. Presumably, the University wanted to prove to parents and the citizens of New Haven that it was Concerned About Hazing, so it chose a couple of harmless organizations and made examples of them. Sometimes I think that, unless the members of the band or team commit a crime, they should be let alone. Membership in these organizations is voluntary, and if you ask a lot of former athletes, band members, and fraternity brothers they will tell you that they didn't really feel like a true member of the group until after they made it through hazing.

chickenlittle said...

"We live in an age of anarchy, both abroad and at home."

Yes but back in Nixon's day students (and wannabe students) were blowing things up and killing each other. Nowadays they're just blowing things up out of proportion.
Without a draft, that sort of rage and danger, and measures against them are unlikely to reappear.

Kirby Olson said...

I thought for harassment to exist it would mean that the young people being harassed would have to complain. In this it's the administration that seems to complain, indicating that they are just sorry they're being left out of the fun since now they're such ugmos no one bothers to harass them.

I can't imagine being part of a marching band at any age, but if I were, then I would probably enjoy this kind of noisy fun.

As it is, I'm not sure that I understand that the actual participants in the band aren't having any fun, and looking forward to their turn as bossy boilers.

Synova said...

The problem with waiting for a complaint is that most of these young "adults" just finished high school. What students learn in high school, particularly girls, is that the only thing worse than getting your ass grabbed or being otherwise harrassed is if you become known as the sort of girl who causes trouble. Who complains.

If you thought that having to endure a litany of sexual jokes or remarks about your boobs was bad, just wait and see how you're treated after you try to do something about it.

Of those who objected to the sorts of things described only a very few would be likely to tell those putting the presure on to f**k off. Doing that would probably work like a charm, actually, but that's not how we train our girls. Not everyone has the ability to make that sort of public spectacle of herself. For most the cure is worse than the disease... that doesn't mean that they asked for the disease.

jinnmabe said...

I thought for harassment to exist it would mean that the young people being harassed would have to complain. In this it's the administration that seems to complain, indicating that they are just sorry they're being left out of the fun since now they're such ugmos no one bothers to harass them.

Where did you get the fact that none of the young people being harassed had complained? That it was "just" the administration? I didn't see that. Common sense tells me SOME of them complained, to the administration. Where else did they get the stories of what happened?

And, "eh, it's no big deal, the strong prey upon the weak all the time, besides, college kids have sex" is not a serious response.

Garage Mahal said...

The Band will play on. I think the UW can survive the current Barrett/Marching Band Crisis. But I really wish Barrett would go.

Speaking of 60s Radicals, is there really much of a difference between Barrett, and David Horowitz? He just wrote a new book on wild paranoid conspiracy theories. He claimed Hillary ran a secret police force out of the White House. Claims Soros (a Jew) was a "Nazi Collaborator" as a 14 yr old boy.
Claims "[t]here are 50,000 professors" who are "anti-American" and "identify with the terrorists."

So can we all agree both need to stop lecturing on college campuses?

Johnny Nucleo said...

This is barbarian behavior and it is unacceptable.

I suspect many young guys out there might think, "Aw, what's the big deal?"

The big deal is not crazy partying. There is a time and place for everything. Crazy partying, at the right time and place, is good. But harassing chicks and making them do sexual stuff they don't want to do is for thugs and losers who can't get play the old-fashioned way: by sweet-talking the ladies with elaborate bullshit, which is how God intended us to score.

There is one odd thing on the list that I don't quite get, though.

"The practice of women swapping shirts with males."

What does that mean? The way it is worded, it sounds consentual and innocuous.

I had no idea band dudes were so obnoxious. I thought they were dweebs. Could it be that they are overcompensating for their dweebish reputation?

a psychiatrist who learned from veterans said...

Don't use the "a" word, the "b" word, the "c" word,... It's hard to tell from my distance whether this is breaking out of a stifling pc environment; but it seems to me it would be sensible for the administrators, first of all, to say to the students that they don't have to participate if they don't want to.

John said...

To be fair, I was in marching band all the way through high school, undergraduate, and even graduate school. I saw things in marching band that were roughly analogous to the things mentioned above. And you know what? It wasn't just the guys doing it... many, if not most, of the girls egged the behavior on as well. They are at least as culpable.

If anything any individual or individuals did was against University policy, then they should reap the consequences. But that's about it. This rates a big "eh" from me.

tb33 said...

Seven....where did you get your info about he band and "scholarships"???? I was in the band for five years and did not know a single person who got a penny for their fine services to the university.

I worked my ass off every day for nothing more than the fact that I love UW and I love the band. I can't even get a bump up on the season ticket waiting list for those enless hours.

This whole thing is ridiculous. I am a female...and was never ONCE sexually harassed,forced to drink, or "hazed" in any way. While I can't say this is true for all sections, it was true with mine. My five years in the band represent the best five years of my life. If John Wiley wants to point out all the bad that the Band has done, perhaps he should take just one moment to recognize all the GOOD the band has done...oh wait...he's never done that before...why start now?

Pogo said...

Re: "perhaps he should take just one moment to recognize all the GOOD the band has done."

You are right, tb33. No doubt this is not representative of the history of this band.

Reputations are quite fragile. All the good of one's life, all of it, can be lost in one thoughtless act. Entire institutions can be colored by this blame, even if undeserved.

I think that's a point some writers are trying to make here. Standards of behavior require enforcement, blame, penalties, and ejection to maintain the group. It's just old-timey advice from Moms everywhere. And it actually matters.

charlotte said...

I remember watching the Rice mob-band. It was fun decades ago, but surely they've moved on to something even kitschier for them, like school spirit and patriotism--?

What the UW band did looks like a case of geeks trying to be greeks. But they'll never be accepted in that way since they wear a uniform.

(Unlike frat boys who wear Oxford cloth button-down Brooks Brothers, khakis or gray wool slacks, cashmere V-neck sweaters and worn-just-so topsiders.)

Erika22 said...

During my freshman year in college I met the most powerful man at the university. His name wasn’t Wiley. It was Mike Leckrone. Ironically, it was on a roadtrip to Michigan. On September 29, 2000 we were at a high school cafeteria waiting for our dinner. There were some upperclassmen playing football on the lawn. Mike yelled out, “No one steps on this grass. They’ve just resodded it.” After that, not one of the 300 band members even so much as touched the grass with a finger.

A couple other events happened between a few people on that roadtrip. You’ve read about them. After that happened, we all got a talking to. On every successive roadtrip I had while in band, nothing like that happened again. The events you are reading about happened in the distant past. In an organization where the student leadership changes every year, you can be sure that six years truly is the distant past. When Mike implements something, it changes immediately.

From what I’ve heard from current band members, there are two events that have been written about which are probably true. 1. Shaved heads. This happens once a year with a small group of people. It seems less dramatic when you find out that so little hair is cut off that it’s grown back by the end of the three day roadtrip. 2. Semi-nude dancing. Men without their shirts on and women with sports bras? Sounds like practice to me! It’s almost odd to see band members with shirts on considering that even in the winter their practices are done in summer workout clothes.

When you take a look at the student section, check which students aren’t yelling Eat S***, F*** You. It’s the band members. Mike fines them $200 each if they say it at any time, not just the game. Trust me, the threat is enough. He hardly ever has to collect that money. Perhaps if Chancellor Wiley had the authority over the student body that Leckrone has over his band members you wouldn’t have to cover up your kid’s ears at a football game.

Theo Boehm said...

I played in bands, considered band directing as a career, and was a high school band director for a year. This story reminds me why I fled.

Marching bands and music have about as much to do with each other as green and the number seven. (I know, that’s an old Garrison Keillor line, but I had to use it.) That isn’t to say you won’t find a green seven occasionally.

As someone who thought of himself as a musician and music teacher, the extraneous crap involved in directing marching bands was beyond belief. And God help you if you actually tried to teach music or play something challenging. But, as others have pointed out, a good band director can have remarkably dictatorial power. It’s just that acquiring that power is not straightforward, and if you don’t have it or let things slip even for a moment, all hell can break loose.

Anyway, when I was an undergraduate the band was something of a joke, a not bad joke, just a fun joke. Everyone was too stoned to harass anybody, and libidos were satiated and/or suppressed chemically (it was the ’60’s and California, after all). Nothing was more hilarious than a completely stoned pep band. Munchies began to hit during the 4th quarter, so there were lots of dry lips from all the stashed rice cakes and trail mix. And then there was that memorable basketball game with the piccolo player on acid….

It’s been building for a long time, but it’s still interesting to see how drunken, boorish frat-boy behavior springs up given the slightest chance. I’m not making a case for Boomer superiority, but I can’t remember anything like the UW band incidents—lots of other weirdness, but nothing like this. Feminism was in full flower, too, and we were all afraid that if we didn’t play along with the Belinda Berkeleys of this world, we would be deprived of female companionship. I hope I’ve put that delicately enough.

Some might wonder why such grotesque misbehavior has been tolerated in such easily offended places as UW Madison by the band, of all things. That’s because the band is an integral part of the moneymaking football-industrial complex. With the exception of Stanford and UCLA, we really didn’t have this in California. There were plenty of wannabes and alums of various schools who would have liked to recreate the atmosphere around those Midwestern Top Ten football programs. Fortunately, rah-rah ran up against California yeah, whatever. Also, with the exception of Stanford, alumni contributions and general support have not as big a factor as they seem to be in the football-centric areas of the Midwest and South.

So, what to do? One thought is to turn all these football schools into the University of Chicago. Total grind central with an education at the end. But what would become of all the athletes, all the expensive facilities, the bands, all the supporters and open-walleted alumni, all that television revenue?

Rhett Butler’s answer to Scarlett springs uncharitably to mind.

knoxgirl said...

thugs and losers who can't get play

I think this explains it all.

Kev said...

"Marching bands and music have about as much to do with each other as green and the number seven.

This is true, Theo, and it's one reason why I decided to teach my own instrument instead of become a band director (and getting bitten by the jazz bug in college helped a lot). Here in Texas (one of the biggest of the football-happy states you described), it's contest month, and most of my high school students are involved with at least one competition a week for the entire month, which is a lot more than we had when I was in school. It really does seem like "music as full-contact sport" sometimes. (That being said, I did have a good time playing in college marching band, but I'd never want to direct one at any level.)

Reading over a description of the UW band's antics, it appears as though a few things "crossed the line," while others can be attributed to typical college behavior. If these things really did happen as far in the past as erika22 says they did, I'm not sure why it's becoming an issue at this point. If it did happen again recently, it sounds like Leckrone will deal with it in an appropriate manner (and the administration will do so if he doesn't).

Oh, and yetanotherjohn, I think you must have heard a slightly altered version of the Rice MOB vs. A&M hijinks; it actually happened at Rice, not College Station, for one thing. (A full transcript of that show may be found here.)

no1special said...

U guys r old... sounds bad when written with such spin....but this sort of stuff molds u into fine upstanding citizens, or a life of therapy..whatever. Buck up Little Camper.... Shit or get off the pot...... Choices...... could i make 'George' kiss 'Seven' before he posted his comments...i think not, although it would b a site. U experience...it's either bad or good and u either repeat that experience or u don't, u adjust accordingly...or after feeling guilty, u blame what u did on the person that 'made' u do it.... either/or ... i guess u won't be invited to my halloween party...u have to kiss me to get in...and i'm way GAY!

Theo Boehm said...

As I've said elsewhere on this blog, I need an editor.

First, that's "Big Ten," not "Top Ten."

Second, there's USC. USC! How could I forget the ur-football school in California? Duhh...

Finally, my wife says that I should only have, "Rhett's answer to Scarlett...." and left off the "Butler." A question of style, but I thnk she's right.

Sorry to take up bandwidth for this, but I don't want to appear any more foolish in the archives than necessary.

Also, I have no idea what no1 is talking about above. At least the piccolo player on acid made sense in her own way. It's just the rest of us couldn't see those notes crawling off the page on to her arm. I'm wondering what no1's excuse is.