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Columbia’s 116-year-old marching band voluntarily disbands over anonymous racism, sexism claims

Said it has ‘maintained a club structure founded on the basis of racism, cultural oppression, misogyny, and sexual harassment’

Anonymous allegations of racism, sexism and sexual misconduct led the Columbia University Marching Band to voluntarily disband itself after 116 years.

The band announced its decision in a September 14 Facebook post after 20 members held a meeting September 12. It included the band’s leadership, which refers to itself as the “Bored.”

The band is not an official student organization so it can disband without administrative approval. However, any student could then restart the band.

The group had faced two weeks of accusations from a Facebook page that took anonymous complaints. The Columbia Confessions page published accusations against band members, including complaints about theft and racism.

The student-run Facebook page allows people to anonymously ask questions and post about their experiences at the university.

A September 2 Confessions page post accused a band member of stealing her deceased father’s journal after they had sex.

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One post on September 5 said “watching CUMB [say] that they don’t condone theft is making me laugh. As a former member I can tell you for a fact that on band trips people would be encouraged to steal from the places they traveled to” and to steal from “the dorms of the students they stayed with at other colleges.”

Another complaint on the same post raised sexual misconduct accusations.

“In the fall I was groped at a marching band party and many band members watched me tell their friend no as they continued to touch and grind on me,” the anonymous accuser said in a complaint posted on the same post. “They just stared and did nothing.”

A September 9 post included a complaint against marching band members. It accused them of racism toward Native Americans for imitating a “stereotypical ululating war cry” after a football game. However, a submission right after said the “confessions about the marching band aren’t true.”

The College Fix reached out to Columbia Confessions to find students who made allegations against the band, however, the page said via Facebook messaging that “100% [of the submissions are done so] anonymously through a Google Form–we don’t even know their identities.”

Columbia University did not respond to two emailed requests since Tuesday for comment on pending investigations into the allegations against the band from The Fix.

Because of the public revelations, band members “unanimously and enthusiastically decided to dissolve” and said it will not “exist in any capacity,” the band’s Facebook post said.

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“The Band has maintained a club structure founded on the basis of racism, cultural oppression, misogyny, and sexual harassment,” the band wrote. It said that it would be “impossible” to reform itself because the band is “grounded in prejudiced culture and tradition.”

The band initially responded to the first allegations in a September 2 Facebook post and said it planned to explore how to make changes to itself to address the allegations made through the social media site.

The band did not respond to a Facebook message and email from The College Fix seeking comment on the allegations and any plans it has to investigate the claims.

The band has a storied history at the university and a complicated relationship with the Ivy League institution.

In September 2019, the athletic department prohibited the band from performing at all future athletics events after it failed to properly register as a student organization.

The Columbia Spectator previously reported the marching band found itself in tension “with Columbia administrators for years, with the conflict coming to a peak when it defied orders and held Orgo Night inside Butler Library in fall 2017.”

Orgo Night is held on the day before an organic chemistry exam, which is always on the first day of finals. At midnight, the Columbia University Marching Band occupies Room 209 (the main reading room) of Butler Library in an attempt to distract students from studying.

Band members believed they were punished for its 2017 actions in 2018 when CUMB was informed that a large portion of its budget would be cut starting the upcoming academic year, according to the student paper.

MORE: Perpetrators of marching band racial slur turned out to be minorities

IMAGE: Steve Harris / Unsplash

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About the Author
College Fix contributor Ashley Carnahan is a senior at the University of California Berkeley majoring in business administration with a minor in Russian. She writes for Campus Reform. She is a member of Berkeley's Turning Point USA chapter.