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Friday, April 12, 2024

New band, same members: Harmful Band-Uh! culture cannot be taken lightly or repeated

What oversight does the university actually have on reformed UC Davis Marching Band?

The Cal Aggie Marching Band, known to most students as Band-Uh!, was formally disbanded on Sept. 3. With it, the former band’s harmful culture and traditions, as detailed in The California Aggie, should have disappeared as well.

Since the announcement, though, it seems that members of the new UC Davis Marching Band are not taking themselves to task to focus on creating a safe culture for all members before starting on anything else.

The seriousness of the allegations against the band’s structure cannot be overstated. Courageous former members have come forward not just to The Aggie but to The Sacramento Bee as well, detailing their experiences around hazing, binge drinking, sexual harassment and assault, ineffective leadership, intimidation and more. These survivors should take solace in the fact that their stories have helped put an end to the harmful culture of Band-Uh!

Other former members, nonetheless, have taken the band’s elimination in an entirely different light. The spectrum of reactions spans from those who accept that there were problems with the band and are ready for an overhaul to those who have declined to accept that there were any issues in the band at all. This denial amounts to nothing more than victim blaming. Former members have made public social media statements consistent with their views. Within private law firm Van Dermyden Maddux’ climate survey on the former organization, some former members even expressed concerns “about ‘bias’ in the media against the organization.”

Let it be clear: The Aggie stands behind the courageous individuals who came to this newspaper and others regarding their experiences. In the Editorial Board’s eyes, members of the new band must keep survivors’ narratives at the forefront of every decision regarding the new band’s future.

When petitions — one authored by a former Band-Uh! and current UC Davis Marching Band member — appear online asking that the new marching band be allowed to perform before the hiring of a faculty director, one can’t help but feel like what happened to the band’s victims isn’t being taken seriously. Recruiting a faculty member at UC Davis is a time-intensive process, and we want this process to be as thorough as possible.

When the same petition states that “our student directors and drum majors have been trained for two or more years for these performances,” and that “the football shows that they have already written are ready to be practiced and performed,” the survivor’s experiences are not centered. They seem absent from the conversation. And when an update to the petition is signed with a well-known slogan from the former Band-Uh!, more insult is added to injury.

The university has promised that the UC Davis Marching Band will be “university-supervised” and not “student-led” like Band-Uh! was. We want to know how the administration will ensure that the students leading the new band, who could have been members of Band-Uh!, are not going to maintain the old status quo.

Members, leaders and the new interim director of the UC Davis Marching Band: This is your chance. Sure, let’s do it for the music. But first, let’s make sure that the harm Band-Uh! did to so many never happens again. Make it a fact that “Far and wide, many have tried, but none have done it better.” Because up until now, that hasn’t been true.

Written By: The Editorial Staff


  1. Some topics I would have liked to see in this article that have not been addressed in any of the Aggie articles around this situation: how long is the waitlist for CARE and what happens when someone else’s case is deemed more important than yours, how many representatives from HDAPP we have on this campus, research into why the petition began, and the names of the people who wrote this article. How are we expected to take this seriously if we see the authors won’t stand by their own work?


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