At their final in-person soccer sport, the Leland Stanford Junior College Marching Band (LSJUMB) performed in ponchos and wore sneakers soaked in pink grime so watery it seemed like Thai iced tea.
This wet day efficiency stands out to Hana/Connor Yankowitz ’22, who has performed within the Band for 3 years.
“I’d been making an attempt to get photographs of individuals smiling for the entire season, and so they simply at all times seemed tremendous critical,” they mentioned.
Not this time. “Each picture that I took — all people in it was smiling.”
A yr and a half has handed since that sport.
In March 2020, COVID-19 situations compelled the Band to transition to a digital platform. Final June, because the pandemic raged on, Band management was accused of systematically mishandling internal allegations of sexual misconduct and assault.
“It’s been a yr of ourselves and our traditions with brutal honesty and addressing the issues we discovered,” Yankowitz, who’s now the band supervisor, wrote. The Band’s skilled workers and undergraduate management, often known as the “band staph,” have spent their quarantine grappling with deep-rooted flaws in Band tradition and dealing towards organizational change.
“I really feel that there has traditionally been a misplaced worth on Band as an entity, divorced from its members, that has resulted in a glorification of symbols that symbolize its historical past and traditions,” Elijah Vela ’23, the Band’s inside operations officer, wrote in an electronic mail to The Each day.
“At the beginning, we’re right here to serve our band members and the Stanford group,” they added.
Band management mentioned they’ve targeted on making a cultural shift towards prioritizing scholar security and restructuring the band staph into committees to higher assist scholar management.
Drum main Yanal Qushair ’21 M.S. ’22 mentioned these current modifications are extra drastic than previous efforts, which translated to little “long-lasting progress” in ending the established order of a “hypersexualized” tradition.
“Sufficient gradual change,” Qushair mentioned.
A tradition of empowerment
LSJUMB’s norms and values are outlined in a two-page doc created final yr by scholar summer time committee leaders because the Band grappled with a have to formalize new expectations and bounds.
Originating as a response to broader cultural issues however formed by the sexual assault allegations that surfaced final June, the residing doc is meant to be a “information for all members to acknowledge problematic and unwelcome behaviors” that may happen within the Band.
“It was made fairly clear that studying and agreeing to the norms and values was a baseline requirement for persevering with to be part of the band,” Abby Taylor ’22, who has been with the Band as a common member since her freshman yr, wrote in an electronic mail to The Each day.
One worth, “scholar well-being and security,” states that the Band ought to be “a secure area for college students to return collectively and luxuriate in music, no matter their race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, potential or socioeconomic background,” including that “sexual misconduct, bullying and any actions that endanger different college students is not going to be tolerated.”
For band director Russell Gavin, who additionally teaches in Stanford’s music division, setting these boundaries is an important first step in shifting Band tradition.
“These are the issues that we completely is not going to tolerate. We’re not going to disgrace folks right here. We’re not going to make enjoyable of individuals. We’re not going to push boundaries of hypersexualized innuendo in a approach that makes folks really feel personally attacked,” Gavin mentioned.
Structural modifications accompany the shift away from what Yankowitz calls “clinging too tightly to traditions” — traditions that originated from the Band’s predominantly white, male, cisgender previous. The Band’s move to the College’s athletics division in January 2020 gave skilled workers akin to Gavin extra energy to proactively forestall and reply to threats to scholar security, together with sexual misconduct and assault — a duty that after fell on the shoulders of scholar management.
As a part of its efforts to guard college students, the Band additionally created an inside nameless suggestions kind that features a listing of individuals to contact — together with part leaders, band supervisor, drum main and band director — with any considerations, together with situations of sexual assault and threats to scholar security. Solely the band supervisor and director can entry kind responses. As band director, Gavin is a compulsory reporter, which implies that he should report any allegations of sexual misconduct he’s made conscious of to the right authorities, such because the Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Training (SHARE) Title IX Workplace.
The shape additionally lists common psychological well being and sexual assault assets on campus and clarifies the Band’s reporting mechanisms and accountability procedures for college students — the sort of outreach Gavin discovered missing in previous years.
Regardless of the Band’s finest efforts, propelling a cultural shift throughout a pandemic is tough.
Sophie Opferman ’23, who oversees recruitment because the Band’s exterior relations officer, mentioned that the mixture of digital onboarding and the usually transient nature of the Band’s present common members — given the group’s comparatively low dedication necessities — implies that many potential new members are ready till in-person performances are doable to hitch.
In consequence, conversations with new members about Band tradition and sexual assault and misconduct haven’t occurred “on the extent that [they] will” upon a return to campus, in accordance with Gavin.
Nonetheless, some returning members have discovered methods to have interaction with the cultural modifications on their very own phrases. Prior to now yr, common member Kylie Holland ’22 mentioned that she has had casual conversations with band associates in regards to the group’s tradition, although not as usually as she did earlier than the pandemic as a result of she is much less uncovered to the tradition in a distant setting.
Gavin mentioned that for the reason that Band staph will not be at the moment working at full capability because of the pandemic, requiring staph-wide coaching this previous yr was not possible. Restructured onboarding and sturdy necessary management coaching have already been deliberate for subsequent fall. There may even be a brand new membership settlement for college students searching for to hitch the Band, with a particular addendum for individuals who need to be a part of the Band staph.
The Band’s dedication to scholar security extends past student-student interactions. Band alumni, for instance, can not go to and play with the Band each time they want — a choice that, in accordance with Opferman, created some backlash from alumni. Apart from “an articulated variety of occasions yearly” that particularly invite alumni again, “there shall be no alumni within the present band,” in accordance with Gavin.
Opferman attributed the brand new coverage to the constraints of holding some non-student perpetrators accountable below Title IX. Alumni who don’t have any different affiliation with the College will not be lined as potential perpetrators below Administrative Guide 1.7.1, which lays out College insurance policies concerning sexual violence and applies to all “college students, school, workers, postdoctoral students, associates and others taking part in College packages and actions, on or off-campus, together with abroad packages, or offering providers to the College.” In consequence, alumni who don’t have any different affiliation with the College cannot be investigated via SHARE and Title IX procedures.
Redistributing energy, delegating duty
Since final December, the Band has additionally engaged in discussions about restructuring the Band staph into 5 committees based mostly on totally different classes of management obligations. The initiative is nearly totally carried out.
“The basic function of the restructuring of the management within the band is to verify college students in these positions are clearly empowered and supported in ways in which make their jobs each accomplishable and sustainable,” Gavin mentioned.
In earlier years, a lot of the work fell on a couple of scholar leaders, together with the band supervisor and drum main. Yankowitz and Qushair, who at the moment maintain these positions, agreed that the burden may trigger burnout. New insurance policies, akin to ending the two-year dedication for the supervisor place and making a conductor place that takes on among the drum main’s duties, align with the aim of the brand new committee construction: to compartmentalize and delegate duty.
Yankowitz mentioned that delegating duty has helped the Band be extra inclusive, one of many group’s group norms. Band members now have “extra autonomy” to work on totally different tasks that curiosity them, they mentioned. The concentrate on inclusivity can be mirrored in different modifications, akin to rearranging Band follow area to be extra evenly distributed amongst sections.
“We haven’t performed a ok job making all people within the band really feel like equal members of the band,” Gavin mentioned. Inclusivity is intently tied to scholar security and whether or not members really feel they’ll “comfortably specific their discomfort,” in accordance with Gavin. Shifting ahead, Gavin hopes the committee construction will assist the Band’s cultural shift — first defining the bounds of scholars’ roles, after which serving to them know the place to show once they attain these limits. The brand new committees will function at full capability as soon as the Band is in individual once more.
Work in progress
Some members of the Band are taking part in music once more: In-person rehearsals are socially distanced within the stands of Stanford Stadium.
Security precautions are taken — bell covers for the devices, masks for his or her musicians — although none for the ears. “It was slightly bit rusty, for positive,” Qushair mentioned. Nonetheless, it was good simply to listen to “the sound of [music] reside.”
The interval of readjustment will not be confined to the realms of rhythm and pitch.
In Opferman’s view, the pandemic supplied the prospect to “experiment and check out our new construction.” However as Yankowitz sees it, the pandemic has additionally meant that these nonetheless concerned in digital band are normally staph members and “immediately part of quite a lot of the conversations which are taking place.” They need to be sure that these conversations stay as clear as doable for others within the group.
As common members, Holland and Taylor are each conscious of the brand new norms and values doc and nameless suggestions kind, having obtained emails and Slack messages about them. Holland additionally attended an non-compulsory digital city corridor hosted by Gavin, throughout which college students — lots of them common members — may ask clarifying questions on upcoming modifications.
When requested what they really feel the largest cultural modifications shall be as soon as in-person Band actions totally resume, Holland pointed to the brand new limitations on participation for the traditionally “very engaged, very enthusiastic” group members and alumni, whereas Taylor highlighted the consequences that rearranging Band area could have on part tradition and relationships amongst sections.
Trying again, Gavin is pleased with scholar management’s dedication to vary, calling them “very courageous college students” who allowed themselves “to actually look at the group for what it’s.”
“It will be a greater campus if there have been extra college students like those who’ve stood up within the Stanford Band and mentioned, We’re going to make it a greater place,” Gavin mentioned.
Trying ahead, Qushair is optimistic.
“The scholars are the individuals who construct the tradition, and if the scholars’ minds have modified, then I may be fairly assured that everybody at the least goes in with the intense intention of constructing constructive change, and that may translate to the precise end result,” he mentioned.
And in Yankowitz’s view, whereas the Band could also be a “flawed group,” it’s nonetheless one which brings the Thai iced tea kind of pleasure to many. “We’re striving to be sure that it really is inclusive, welcoming and accessible, and that each era that passes via it leaves it higher than they discovered it,” they mentioned.