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Columbia Sidelines Its Ragtag Marching Band


No one who favors the precision movements and excellent musicianship of Big Ten or HBCU bands would ever mistake Columbia University's unusual band for one of those. But for decades, the Ivy League university's ragtag marching band has entertained — and sometimes embarrassed — (often sparse) crowds at football games with chaotic, occasionally cringeworthy musical numbers and comedy routines that make fun of opponents, campus administrators, politicians and others. (See below for one prime example.)

Apparently no more. After repeated clashes with Columbia administrators, in part over the band's annual tradition of disrupting library goers on the night before the major final exam in organic chemistry, the band was informed this week that it would no longer be allowed to perform at sporting events. A Columbia spokesman said in a statement that the band had been told last fall that its two primary funding sources — Columbia's main undergraduate college and its engineering school — would be cut off at the end of the 2018-19 academic year. "It was also explained then that the best path forward for them would be to become a recognized student group," the spokesman said, but the band "failed to submit an application for recognition that met the deadlines of our student governing boards, bringing us to the current situation."

A member of the band told The Columbia Spectator, the student newspaper, that while it was ending in an "official" capacity, “the band will not disappear. We’ll still be here, just not at the football stadium. The show must go on — the band will continue to play.”

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Doug Lederman 2019-09-27 07:00:00

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