University places Stanford Band on indefinite provisional status

Stanford University has placed the Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band on indefinite provisional status as a student organization and has appointed an interim director to lead the group while the university determines the conditions under which the privileges of the Band will be fully reinstated.

These measures were announced on Thursday, Sept. 14, by Vice Provost for Student Affairs Greg Boardman as a result of intentional destruction by Band members of the Band Shak this summer.

Indefinite provisional status means neither the Band nor any of its members will perform at this weekend’s opening of the new Stanford Stadium or at any other athletic events through at least the end of September. Participation of the Band at any other university and non-university events will be at the discretion of the interim director, Associate Dean of Students Chris Griffith. Boardman and Griffith have determined that the Band will be allowed to participate in the traditional opening-of-school Band Run.

In addition to appointing Griffith as interim director, Boardman announced the creation of a Band Reinstatement Committee, which will be charged with developing criteria for reinstatement. Other terms and conditions of the indefinite provisional status include:

  • All members of the Band who took part in acts of destruction to the Band Shak will be suspended from Band membership.

  • The Band will not be allowed to travel for a minimum of one year.

  • The current alcohol suspension will be extended indefinitely.

  • The Band will be required to reimburse the university the full cost of damages to the Band Shak.

“We hope that the Band’s conduct in the next few months will provide a positive environment for thoughtful and long-term change to occur under the guidance of the interim director and the Band Reinstatement Committee,” Boardman said.

Boardman had suspended the Stanford Band beginning on July 18 as a result of destruction of the Band Shak, a modular structure leased to the university by a third party for rehearsals while a new practice facility was constructed. A university review of the destruction revealed significant Band participation. The vandalism included using a sledgehammer to create extensive damage to the walls. Windows were broken, equipment was destroyed, much of the ceiling was torn down and the walls were spray painted and covered with food. Initial reports estimated the cost to repair the damage at between $30,000 and $50,000.

Boardman said the Band Shak incident follows a history of misconduct in recent years by the organization and sanctions by the university.

“This was a truly disturbing incident reflecting a disregard for the law, university property and personal health and safety—all apparently with the tacit approval of Band leadership,” Boardman said. “It reflects a systemic cultural problem.”

The university’s Department of Public Safety is conducting a criminal investigation into the Band Shak incident and has forwarded a preliminary report to the office of the Santa Clara County District Attorney.

Boardman and Athletic Director Bob Bowlsby said the university remains supportive of the Band’s scatter-band approach, which eschews formal marching formations, and its tradition of zany and unorthodox humor.

“We want a strong, creative and vibrant Band,” Bowlsby said. “We believe that tradition of creativity and originality can be preserved in a way that doesn’t lead to irresponsible acts and supports student athletes rather than drawing attention away from them.”

Michael Priest, the Band’s student manager, said he hoped the university and band members could now move together in a united fashion.

“We're glad to be back in action, and we're glad that all of us are working hard to create the Band that everyone wants to see,” Priest said. “Hopefully now we can try to focus on doing what we do best: generating school spirit, supporting the Stanford community, and spreading pure joy.”