Provost John Etchemendy lifted the suspension on the Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band (LSJUMB) in a letter to Band leadership on Thursday, marking a successful appeal by the irreverent student group.
Etchemendy placed the Band on “provisional status” for the remainder of the year, granting the group permission to participate in actions that preserve the Band as a “vibrant and ongoing student organization,” according to the letter. The travel ban will remain in effect through the end of the provisional status.
The status comes as a response to a letter of appeal from the Band’s leadership after Vice Provost Greg Boardman suspended the Band in December at the recommendation of the Organizational Conduct Board (OCB).
In Thursday’s letter, Etchemendy writes that the suspension would effectively end the Band, a solution “unacceptable to any of us.”
Etchemendy cited poor communication between LSJUMB and the University as an inhibitor to a faster resolution. He writes that, while necessary, the previous demands for reform laid out by the University were not quantifiable, and the end results were not clearly defined.
“As you note in the appeal, it is difficult to quantify, much less to prove, when adequate cultural change has been accomplished,” Etchemendy wrote.
The former suspension, effective through spring of 2017, was based on OCB and Title IX investigations of four alleged hazing, sexual harassment and alcohol-abuse policy violations that occurred as recently as winter of 2015. The investigations led the administration to work in close contact with Band management to restructure traditions and change culture.
At the end of fall quarter, when the OCB felt that LSJUMB leadership was unable to make changes, they implemented the suspension, leading Band management to write a letter of appeal to the Provost.
The Band’s appeal acknowledged some of the shortcomings of the organization’s goals to preserve inclusivity and included statements from current and former Band members as well as family and friends of Band-affiliated members.
The appeal explained how suspending the Band for the remainder of the year would cripple the organization; it also showed Band management’s abilities to redesign the structure for an effective culture change.
Previously, Boardman called Band management incapable of implementing change, causing Band leadership to respond with the importance of student action to transform the culture.
“Decisions impacting the long-term culture of the organization must necessarily involve the student membership, as the students will ultimately carry the mantle forward,” leadership wrote.
Etchemendy wrote that this insight as well as examples of Band leadership following the OCB, Office of Alcohol Policy and Education (OAPE) and Title IX guidelines prove Band leadership’s capabilities to improve Band culture.
“Your near-term plans for clarifying Band’s behavioral aspirations, and your long-term plans for codifying and communicating them to future generations, are reassuring,” he wrote.
Etchemendy called the outline set out in the appeal to be “thoughtful and realistic,” but also mentioned that Band must present “forward-looking” results. He said Band goals of inclusivity and prevention of hazing, sexual harassment and alcohol-abuse within the group align with University ideals for the organization.
“I look forward to getting the Band up and running as soon as possible, at which point I’ll join you in a chorus of ‘All Right Now,’” Etchemendy said. “On my kazoo.”
The Band is allowed to proceed with 2017-18 Dollie and Tree selection, rehearse, use the Band Shak, hold meetings and social functions as well as fill the vacant music director position. The goal is to have Band perform at home games by the end of winter quarter.
To ensure Band is complying with new sanctions, the Provost is appointing a four-member Oversight Committee composed of members of the President and Provost’s office, Student Affairs, the Athletics office and Band alumnae. Etchemendy plans to serve as the representative of the President and Provost’s office. The Committee will be dissolved once sanctions have been met.
Band leadership happily responded in a statement, pleased with Etchemendy’s support.
“Through hiring a new music director, restructuring some Band selection processes and maintaining positive, open communication with the administration, we will continue to improve our music, our jokes and our culture,” leadership wrote. “Okay, maybe not the jokes.”
Contact Gillian Brassil at gbrassil ‘at’ stanford.edu.