LSJUMB reacts to alcohol suspension

March 14, 2012, 3:04 a.m.

The Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band (LSJUMB) was placed on alcohol suspension Feb. 6 by the Office for Student Affairs, following incidents surrounding the abuse of alcohol at the Fiesta Bowl, according to band manager Brian Kooiman ’12.


“There were several alcohol-related incidents at the Fiesta Bowl that led to alcohol suspension,” Kooiman said in an email to The Daily.


Kooiman denied, however, that the LSJUMB has had an unusual amount of alcohol-related accidents or hospitalizations this year.

LSJUMB reacts to alcohol suspension
(SERENITY NGUYEN/The Stanford Daily)


When asked how the LSJUMB has responded to the incidents in order to prevent similar ones from occurring in the future, Kooiman said, “We are currently following our alcohol suspension.”


University policy for alcohol suspension requires that all organization activities and events be alcohol-free, according to Chris Griffith, associate vice provost and dean of student life.


“Other than events planned by the organization for its members, it can be difficult for non-housed groups to define what activities constitute an organization event,” Griffith said in an email to The Daily. “We trust that they will abide by expectations and will consult with us if they have questions.”


This is not the first time that the Office of Student Affairs has imposed an alcohol suspension on the LSJUMB. Griffith said that the Band was placed on indefinite provisional status – including alcohol suspension – in 2006 after band members vandalized and destroyed the Band Shak.


Griffith said that the current alcohol suspension will be reviewed at the end of Spring Quarter.


Band Member Reaction

Citing directions from LSJUMB staff that discouraged non-staff members from talking to the press, several band members declined to speak to The Daily.


Responding to the imposition of the alcohol suspension, however, one member sent out an email to the Band’s email list expressing frustration with the LSJUMB staff’s non-resistance to University regulations. Noting their tradition of irreverence, the student argued that the Band should challenge the University’s judgments rather than comply with them.


The email thread received over 100 responses in one night.


The imposition of the alcohol suspension has unintentionally coincided with the University terminating the independent lease of Chi Theta Chi, a co-op which one band member said has traditionally housed an unusually high proportion of band participants. With this development – along with separate regulations the University has recently placed upon band operations related to transportation, field show regulations and the Band’s internal disciplinary management – other band members said they felt frustrated with the University in more ways than one.


Alleged hijinks

The abuse of alcohol was not been the only controversy involving the LSJUMB’s behavior at the Fiesta Bowl.


Following Stanford’s defeat in the football game, the former drum major continued to call songs during the presentation of the trophy and the playing of Oklahoma State’s alma mater, disrupting the awards ceremony and riling fans of both teams. Several members of the audience tweeted about the Band’s interference, and many posted complaints online.


Although OSU fan Mark Lash acknowledged the joviality of the halftime show’s “trash-talk,” Lash wrote on his blog that the post-game behavior of the LSJUMB was “offensive, disrespectful and way out of line.”


Lash posted a letter that he had written to the Stanford Athletic Department, saying that he had heard that members of the band mimed a plane crash during the halftime show, a reference to the crash that killed the coach and assistant coach of OSU’s women’s basketball team this November.


However, one LSJUMB member, who wished to remain anonymous, gave an opposing account, saying that a few band members ran onto the field with extended arms, like they do at every halftime show before getting into formation, and that they did not intend any such allusion.


“Running onto the fields with your arms out is a lot different than mimicking a plane crash,” the source said.


According to the band member, Lash’s complaint about the Band’s conduct at the Fiesta Bowl was one of about 80 received by the University. Griffith, however, said that the exact count is unknown due to the dispersion of complaints among administrative departments and offices.


“We replied and expressed our apologies for disrupting the award ceremony,” Griffith said of the University’s response. “We are working closely with the Band leadership to develop protocols that will alleviate the possibility of similar occurrences in the future.”


A band member also set off small explosives at the Phoenix Zoo preceding the Band’s Fiesta Bowl performance, according to two other band members who also wished to remain anonymous.


LSJUMB staff declined to comment about delaying the award ceremony and about the alleged use of small explosives at the Phoenix Zoo.

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