On May 15, Stanford’s Organization Conduct Board and Title IX Office announced the results of an investigation into several alleged incidents within the Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band. Stanford released a statement summarizing the investigation, excerpted below:
“Stanford initiated the joint inquiry after learning of concerns regarding several band events, including off-campus trips, that the band held for its members between 2012 and 2015. The investigation found that, on several occasions, the band violated university policies regarding alcohol, controlled substances, hazing and/or sexual harassment. Violations included a tradition in which a band member was given an alcoholic concoction intended to make that individual vomit publicly; an annual trip in which some band members used illegal substances; and a band selection process in which individuals were asked a number of inappropriate questions on sexual matters.
As an outcome of the investigation, the band will be unable to travel with any Stanford athletic team to perform at away athletic events during the 2015-16 academic year, including post-season games. The band will be permitted to play at home events and at certain non-athletic events.
In addition, the band will be prohibited from hosting events with alcohol during the 2015-16 academic year; will be required to adjust some of its internal events to ensure they comply with university policies prohibiting hazing and sexual harassment; and will participate in additional training to ensure compliance with university policies on alcohol, hazing and sexual harassment.”
The Band released the following statement in response:
“The Winds of Freedom Blow (through our horns)
Reports of our death are greatly exaggerated.
Regardless of what you may have read on Yik Yak or heard from sources with incomplete information, the Stanford Band is not suspended. Yesterday, we at last received the results of a Title IX investigation, which has resulted in an alcohol probation of at least one year, as well as a list of measures with which we are expected to comply, effective immediately. As it stands now, the Band will not travel with any Stanford sports team in the next year, and we will be foregoing several of our traditional events. We will continue our extensive charitable work (yes, we do do that) and intend to remain a presence at home games and across campus.
There are aspects of Band culture which are no longer in line with our values, and we accept that, despite tremendous growth, we have further to go. The results of this investigation are valuable, and they give us further opportunity to create a safe space on campus for students to express themselves freely. We are your Band, and we welcome your questions, as well as your thoughts. You will certainly be hearing ours.
Many of the punitive measures that have been placed on the Band are a result of allegations rooted in the 2011-2012 school year, a time when most current Band members were still in high school. We are incredibly proud of the measurable progress that we have made in these past three years, and the Band of today is a very different organization.
The Shak and Band community offer a space to act out, to explore, to play poorly – in general, Band strives to counter the pressures and normalizing forces of college life by providing a space to be free. We understand the fear that our probation will make this community less of a home. To anyone who expects that this will silence us, you haven’t gotten the memo. We believe that we can and must continue to improve our culture without censoring ourselves or conforming to the polished standards of polite silence. You can expect more rallies, more noise, and more surprises. We are still the Stanford Band, and we believe in our mission to bring funk to the funkless. We won’t go away, and we won’t stop being weird.
In the recent past, we have too often conflated growing more inclusive with avoiding controversy. Being in line with this community’s values demands that we return ourselves to the winds of freedom, which in recent years have subsided to an intermittent breeze. We won’t confuse ridding our culture of intolerance with sanitizing our culture of its adventurous character. We hope you’ll stand with us in finding this line.
At our best, the Band challenges the status quo, inspires our audiences to consider new ideas, and stands a symbol of the daring freedom that once attracted us all to Stanford. Across this community, people are struggling to express themselves and to find that freedom. We will continue to be ourselves, and that means remaining independent, loud, and unpredictable, expressive of all the wild and challenging ideas that make this a place of learning and productive discomfort. We know that we sometimes fall short of the mark, but with your help, we’re going to keep trying.
With great love (and absolutely no alcohol),
Your Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band”
We will update this article as we learn more about the situation.