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Columbia University marching band votes to disband after 116 years

Columbia University’s marching band has claimed to disband after 116 years, declaring itself to be irreparably rooted in racism and oppression.

Following a vote on Saturday, the band’s leadership, known as the Bored, issued a statement saying that it has ‘maintained a club structure founded on the basis of racism, cultural oppression, misogyny, and sexual harassment.’

‘The Band has unanimously and enthusiastically decided to dissolve. The Columbia University Marching Band will not continue to exist in any capacity and will no longer serve as a Columbia spirit group,’ the statement added. 

‘The Band understands that for many, the damage experienced at the hands of the CUMB may be irreparable, and the Band will not be asking for or expecting any forgiveness,’ the group said.

Columbia University's marching band has claimed to disband after 116 years, declaring itself to be irreparably rooted in racism and oppression. Above, band members are seen on campus

Columbia University’s marching band has claimed to disband after 116 years, declaring itself to be irreparably rooted in racism and oppression. Above, band members are seen on campus

Following a vote on Saturday, the band's leadership, known as the Bored, issued a statement saying that it has 'maintained a club structure founded on the basis of racism, cultural oppression, misogyny, and sexual harassment'. Above, a member is seen in an undated photo

Following a vote on Saturday, the band’s leadership, known as the Bored, issued a statement saying that it has ‘maintained a club structure founded on the basis of racism, cultural oppression, misogyny, and sexual harassment’. Above, a member is seen in an undated photo

The statement did not address specific allegations against the group, which is known for its history of obnoxious pranks and has long been at odds with school administrators.

However, the decision followed a letter to the Bored from five current and former members, urging the group’s dissolution due to alleged traditions of misconduct, according to The Columbia Spectator, a student newspaper.

In a statement, Columbia University administrators said: ‘We respect efforts of the band’s student leadership to address in a serious manner recent reports of offensive and unacceptable conduct entirely at odds with the values of our university.’ 

Columbia’s marching band had called itself ‘the cleverest band in the world,’ and claimed to have pioneered the ‘scramble band’ format.

Scramble bands rush into formations and play in place, rather than playing as they march into configuration, reducing the practice demands on the Ivy League students.

The Columbia University marching band entertains tax filers and others outside the James A. Farley Main Post Office in New York, shortly before midnight on Tuesday April, 15 in 2008

The Columbia University marching band entertains tax filers and others outside the James A. Farley Main Post Office in New York, shortly before midnight on Tuesday April, 15 in 2008

'The Band understands that for many, the damage experienced at the hands of the CUMB may be irreparable, and the Band will not be asking for or expecting any forgiveness,' the group said

‘The Band understands that for many, the damage experienced at the hands of the CUMB may be irreparable, and the Band will not be asking for or expecting any forgiveness,’ the group said

But the band has courted controversy through the years, gaining a permanent ban from performing at West Point in 1972 after performing what it called a ‘burning Cambodian village’ on the military college’s football field.

The marching band also earned a 10-year ban from Fordham University in 2002 after the band joked that Fordham’s tuition was ‘going down like an altar boy’ during the pre-game show.

After the Fordham ban was lifted, it was promptly reinstated and made indefinite after the Columbia marching band made posters referencing the death of Christians in the jaws of lions (Columbia’s mascot) in ancient Rome.

The band’s history is filled with other crude pranks and incidents.

Matters came to a head with Columbia’s administration last year, after years of tug-of-war over the band’s tradition of ‘Orgo Night,’ in which they invaded the main library the night before the infamous Organic Chemistry final exam and performed a 45-minute show of music and off-color skits.

The band, seen above at homecoming in 2014, was banned from all university athletic events last year after clashing with administrators over 'Orgo Night'

The band, seen above at homecoming in 2014, was banned from all university athletic events last year after clashing with administrators over ‘Orgo Night’

Columbia University Marching Band members protest in front of Hilton Midtown, where Donald Trump was holding a rally on election day, November 8, 2016 in New York City

Columbia University Marching Band members protest in front of Hilton Midtown, where Donald Trump was holding a rally on election day, November 8, 2016 in New York City

Administrators banned Orgo Night in 2016, saying it was distracting and ‘triggering’ for students studying for final exams.

But the marching band persisted, sneaking into the library the following year and arousing the ire of administrators. Last fall, the school pulled funding for the marching band and officially banned it from performing at any athletic events.

In their statement on Saturday, the Bored wrote that its members ‘feel ultimately that it is impossible to reform an organization so grounded in prejudiced culture and traditions.’ 

‘The current Band hopes that the Band’s dissolution will provide relief to the present suffering of the Columbia community and time to heal from the decades of harm caused by this organization,’ the group said.

‘We also hope that the CUMB’s disbandment can create a space that allows for the formation of a new spirit group that will provide a safe and inclusive outlet for students to play music at Columbia,’ the Bored wrote in a statement. 

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