The Columbia University Marching Band is the most despicable group of heathens to ever walk the hallowed halls of this educational institution.
To list all of the Band’s offensive qualities would take more words than War and Peace, Les Misérables, and Infinite Jest combined. This organization is the physical manifestation of the institutionalized patriarchal norms that have are holding Columbia in a metaphorical Dark Age. Everything the Band does is intentionally designed to diminish the identities and actions of anyone attempting to make Columbia a more inclusive place.
How do I know that the Band is so terrible? It’s simple: someone I met at NSOP said she heard from her friend’s older brother that, when he went to Columbia several years ago, the Band had a racist joke in one of their football scripts. Plus, my RA told me that Orgo Night got protested a few semesters back. She didn’t say why, but I’m sure the activists were on the right side.
Not to mention, the Band woke me up the night before my intro bio final last semester by playing outside the Barnard Quad. Well, okay, I wasn’t actually sleeping – I was watching Crash Course Biology in a vain attempt to understand the human immune system. But if I had been sleeping, they would have woken me up. This injustice was my primary motivation for wailing my heart out at Primal Scream a few nights later.
Last semester, Vice Provost Ann Thornton informed the Band that they would not be allowed to enter Butler for Orgo Night. This decision sparked outrage from students and alumni alike who called this decision a “free speech issue” and claimed that it was disturbing a “beloved campus tradition”. I find it impossible to even entertain such arguments. It couldn’t possibly be a free speech issue, because President Bollinger (who is a free speech scholar and would definitely never lie to cover up unethical university practices) said that it isn’t. Anyone who claims that Orgo Night calls out racism and sexism on campus needs to check their privilege, big time; only self-identified activists can identify and call out racism and sexism. And as for “tradition” – the only tradition that should exist on the last night of Reading Week is that of hardworking students pulling all-nighters in Butler.
I am angry about the decision to ban the Band from Butler for an entirely different reason than that of those crying out about “free speech”: I think that the Columbia administration has not gone far enough. Not only should they prevent Orgo Night from happening in Butler 209 – not only should they cancel Orgo Night entirely – they should disband the Band itself. Only when this tumor has been entirely cut out of Columbia can the university move forward and become a truly safe space for all of its students. No university really needs a marching band, just like no university really needs a football team, or a tree lighting ceremony, or an elaborate surf and turf dinner. “School spirit” is just a manufactured falsehood to distract students from the way that we should actually be spending our time at Columbia: working ourselves to death.
I have never met or talked to any member of the Marching Band. I hope I never have to. I am certain that each and every one of them is a cishet white boy from some disgusting prep school determined to prove himself to the world by shitting on anyone remotely different from him. They probably all voted for Trump. And I don’t need to ever read or listen to any of their jokes, either – I already know they’re just as atrocious and offensive as the people who write them. Honestly, I would rather read Mein Kampf.
And, to set the record straight: I did not go to that open party they hosted last Halloween. I only went to the EC hallway outside their suite. My friends and I stood there knocking on the door for a few minutes, but then we were told that the party was full and had to go to 1020 instead. I still can’t believe they wouldn’t let us in! Those assholes.
The author is a Barnard first-year studying History and Sociology. Bulldozing the Institution is a biweekly op-ed series exposing how participating in Columbia traditions makes students complicit in a centuries-old patriarchal legacy. To respond to this piece or submit your own, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo via the CUMB Facebook page