I frequently receive messages from high schoolers saying that the reason Stanford is their dream school is because it’s the only college where they feel like it would be okay for them to be wacky and crazy and fun and smart all at the same time. I’m proud to be part of the reason many of these young scholars can see this truth about Stanford culture, but personally, I cannot think of a better manifestation of this image than the Stanford Band, whose radical self-expression has over the decades come to be a cornerstone of what would otherwise be just another regular old stuffy research institution.
I was deeply saddened to hear that, following repeated incidents that have caused many to question the University’s desire to uphold its image over the issues that matter most to its students, the Stanford University Administration has announced that the Band would be suspended for the rest of the 2016-2017 school year.
The following message was posted in the Facebook Event for a campus-wide rally in support of the Band. As a self-identifying “Concerned Student,” I would like to forward their message along.
TL;DR: If you want to come to Stanford and still want it to be the weird, wacky, wonderful place it has always been when you get here, let our administrators know:
EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, and firstname.lastname@example.org.
(BCC: email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org!)
Dear Stanford, fellow concerned students, alumni, and community members,
On Friday afternoon, members of the Stanford Band and the public were notified that the Band would be suspended for the duration of the 2016-2017 school year and would undergo an administration-centered restructuring of the university – pending an appeal from the Band. (For more on this process, its failures, and its place in our wider concerns, see the Editorial Board of The Daily below) On Saturday, students organized an remarkable show of solidarity for the Band. Over 300 students, alumni, and community members turned out to show their support and to share what Band has meant to them, as well as what concerns them about the administration’s behavior. We thank you for the memories, emotions, support, and determination you all shared.
It’s important that we had the opportunity to hear each other, but Stanford’s top administrators need to hear us as well. We are launching a letter-writing campaign, bringing the voices of the Stanford community to President Tessier-Lavigne, Provost Etchemendy, and incoming Provost Drell. In the end, these are the people responsible for the behavior of the administration and for the well-being of Stanford culture. We believe in their good intentions, and we need them to hear from all of us how much the Stanford Band has meant to this university and its core values. With this in mind, some logistics:
- Write a letter – anywhere from a paragraph to a page – clearly and calmly expressing what the Band has meant to you and why this decision concerns you.
- Express yourself with respect and restraint, and please refrain from attacking individuals who have been involved in this process. Please don’t undermine the remarkable expressions of positivity and determination that we heard at yesterday’s rally by spewing hate or wrongly conflating policies designed to protect students with the imprudent application of those policies.
- Use the subject line “In Support of the Stanford Band – [YOUR NAME]”
- Send your letter to email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, and email@example.com, and BCC firstname.lastname@example.org, so that we can gather everyone’s statements.
We know finals are happening now, but we hope you’ll find a few minutes to productively procrastinate by speaking out in favor of a pluralistic, inclusive, and strange Stanford campus.
If you already submitted a story through the “To the Stanford Band, with love” Google Form that was sent out on Saturday morning to some students and want to forward that to the relevant people, use the second link below so you can retrieve yours – and view the nearly 300 other incredible responses.
The administration timed this decision in hopes that students would be too focused on finals to speak up. We deserve better than manipulation, so add your voice.
To get you started, below we’ve included a few of the points expressed during yesterday’s rally. If you’re not sure where to start, read through these and feel free to use them:
- Band has been a welcoming and inclusive community for people of all kinds, even and especially when other areas of campus life have been unfriendly, hostile, or simply uncomfortable. It exists to spread joy to its members and the community.
- There are a lot of serious fights taking place in our home communities and across this country, and Band provides both a refuge and an outlet for students in the midst of this.
- Band’s irreverence and radical self-expression is a cornerstone of Stanford student culture. Band offers students perspective and helps keep learning about learning, not about academic pressure and competition.
- Band offers a rare genuine space on campus where students can be bad at something without facing social stigma. Band is not focused on academic achievement or career advancement.
- Band performs for a number of important community and charity events around the Bay Area, such as the Special Olympics, SF AIDS Walk, and Ronald McDonald House.
- Stanford University, as an academic institution, should be first and foremost a guardian of the principles of free speech, expression, and assembly. The administration’s draconian behavior – especially Vice Provost Boardman’s open-ended threat of individual disciplinary action for assembling as an organization – has shown that administrators would rather punish dissent than communicate openly with concerned students.
- The administration’s decision to release this decision after work hours on a Friday afternoon between Week 10 and Finals Week demonstrates a disturbing intent to prevent student engagement. Throughout Band’s long and arduous investigation process, the practice of requiring frequent and needlessly-detailed reports from student leadership confirmed this intent to manipulate Band members’ status as students to prevent meaningful progress and create an illusion of noncooperation.
- Despite repeated and thorough efforts to scapegoattheBand, the administration has failed to address the actual causes of sexual assault in the Stanford community, and has shown little serious intent to address inconvenient root causes. Students are rightfully concerned that this decision is an attempt to distract from the shameful revelation that Stanford has attempted to bribe sexual assault survivors for their silence.
In addition to emails, we highly encourage you to send physical mail to Provost Etchemendy, President Tessier-Lavigne, and incoming Provost Drell at the following addresses:
Office of the Provost
Stanford, CA 94305-2061
Office of the President
Stanford, CA 94305-2061
Office of the Dean
475 Via Ortega
Stanford, CA 94305-412
Thank you so much for your continued support, and feel free to reach out with any questions! Put [Question] in the subject line of your email and write to email@example.com.
With hope, funk, and determination,
*A previous version of this post was entitled “Stanford Band BANNED: What YOU can do (A message from LSJUMB themselves)”. This message is not in fact from the band themselves.*