Photo Credits: JAY GELVEZON / AGGIE FILE
Serious allegations of misconduct lead Student Affairs to axe student-led band
The Cal Aggie Marching Band, popularly referred to as the Band-Uh!, will cease to exist following allegations of misconduct committed by band members. These allegations were first published in The California Aggie.
Those allegations were later covered by The Sacramento Bee and the Los Angeles Times. Following these articles, the university conducted an independent “climate survey” of and investigation into the band organization. Today, Interim Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Emily Galindo announced in a statement that the university had discontinued the Band-Uh!, effective immediately.
In deciding to eliminate the current Band-Uh! organization, the university will now establish a new, “university-supervised” organization under a “new name, bylaws and governing structure, guidelines and practices.” Student leadership will now occur under the auspices of a student leadership team, whose establishment and composition will be selected by Campus Recreation.
“The safety of our students is the highest priority,” Galindo said in her statement. “With the seriousness of the allegations, our goal throughout this process was to act swiftly, thoughtfully and appropriately in both our assessment and decision making. The plan put forth was developed with great reflection, intention and care and is rooted in the desire to rebuild the band program into a safe and welcoming organization.”
Once the new band organization is composed, it will be subject to a two-year probationary period, during which “the band must follow the new structure, guidelines and practices, and will be permitted to participate only in events and activities approved by Campus Recreation.”
Student testimony regarding the alleged misbehavior of Band-Uh! members — first published by this paper in April — led The Bee to launch its own investigation into the matter. The Bee’s investigation detailed allegations of hazing and sexual assault by band members.
Following The Bee’s investigation, the university placed the band on an interim suspension in May and also hired “an external law firm to conduct a comprehensive independent review to evaluate the climate of the band,” according to Galindo’s statement.
The firm distributed a “climate survey” to both current and former members of the band. The results of that survey echo student concern regarding worrisome traditions and behaviors in the band previously reported upon. Galindo’s statement did note that 85% of respondents reported that they were “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with their overall experience participating in the band.
Joel Gutierrez, a fourth-year American studies and gender, sexuality and women’s studies double major, is a former member of the Band-Uh!. Gutierrez is one of the few students who initially came forward in The Aggie to discuss the concerning behavior they viewed and experienced first-hand in the Band-Uh!.
“I’ll admit I’m surprised that the university chose to take such drastic action – especially after their long history of giving Band-Uh! a simple slap on the wrist with few consequences,” Gutierrez said. “Still, I’m thankful for the action being taken and I hope that this restructuring of the band will have a lasting positive impact. I am immensely proud of everyone who came forward, publicly or not, to speak up against the harmful culture that the band has housed for decades.”
Over the summer, university leaders in the Division of Student Affairs met to determine the best steps moving forward regarding the reconstruction of the university band. In addition to the complete overhaul of the band’s current structure, the university also decided to discontinue its relationship with the Cal Aggie Marching Band Alumni Association.
“The alumni band will no longer be recognized by the campus and will be prohibited from participating in any campus events,” Galindo’s statement read. “While we recognize that the concerns regarding the alumni band are not reflective of the entire membership, we feel this step is necessary to provide the greatest opportunity for the student band to rebuild as a new and independent program.”
The alumni band was previously suspended by the university in Winter Quarter of 2018 over allegations of misconduct by a member. In The Aggie’s article covering the allegations, band members recounted band alumni sexually harassing or intimidating current band members at parties.
“Under our new restructuring, social interactions with alumni band members will be strongly discouraged,” Galindo’s statement read.
Moving forward, the university said it will collaborate with students to develop a new name, uniform design, mission and vision for the band in addition to implementing required trainings.
“I hope that the university continues to take this two-year probation seriously, and that they do all they can to keep future band members safe and healthy,” Gutierrez said. “Hopefully this entire process can set an example for organizations in the future, as well as for survivors of sexual violence, hazing and all forms of abuse that may occur within the university. Our voices were heard, and we will continue to use them to protect ourselves and our communities from harm.”
Written by: Hannah Holzer — firstname.lastname@example.org