A Message from the President

A Message from the President

November 30, 2018

Revitalization Plan for University Bands

Since early November, the university has been investigating reports of concerning behavior within the Symphony of Soul university band. After numerous interviews with band leaders and members, it became clear that ongoing activities within the organization violated provisions of the university’s policy on hazing, as well as the Student Code of Conduct.

The university’s policy on hazing establishes prohibitions against “any action taken or situation created intentionally to produce physical or mental discomfort, harassment or ridicule.” The BSU Student Code of Conduct defines hazing as “any activity or action which subtly, flagrantly or deliberately demeans, embarrasses, threatens, invites ridicule or draws inappropriate or negative attention to a member, and/or an attitude which implies one member is superior to another or that initiation must be earned through personal services or meaningless activities for initiated members …”

It also became evident during the investigation that there is an immediate need for a comprehensive re-education program to enhance the annual anti-hazing training already provided to the band and other student organizations. As an institution, we have an obligation to assure that the health and well-being of our students are not at risk. We must act quickly to remedy this situation.

Here are the steps the University is taking:

1. Leadership Transition

Dr. Adolph Wright has voluntarily resigned, and assistant band director Billy Bennett has been appointed as the acting director. He will remain in place until an interim director can be appointed during the spring semester. The interim director will serve until a permanent director for the band is appointed. A national search for a permanent band director who is an accomplished music scholar with demonstrated experience working at the collegiate band level will begin on February 1, 2019. The expected start date for the band director is August 1, 2019. 

2. One-year Probation of the Band

Starting today, November 30, the band will begin a one-year probation period during which they will only be allowed to perform on campus at institutional ceremonies and other campus performances that fulfill the academic requirements of the band program. While on probation, the band will not be allowed to travel whenever it would require overnight accommodations. This will enable students to maintain progress in their matriculation, but also reinforce that representing the university on the public stage is a privilege that requires understanding and adherence to established policies and regulations.

3. Required Academic Enrichment

As a part of the investigation, it became clear that several members of the band need additional academic support. During this probationary period, we are committed to ensuring their academic success. As a part of this process, we have designed an inclusive and comprehensive required program for academic enrichment, including structured study halls.

4. Student Leadership Development & Training

A Revitalization and Realignment Program has been developed to reform the practices and procedures that guide the operation of the S.O.S. Band and to strengthen the framework of our anti-hazing training. Leadership development and training is an essential part of our plan, including required sessions on understanding group formation and dynamics of group engagement. A cross-disciplinary group of faculty will to lead this effort. Students will all be required to participate in anti-hazing training and become trainers to share the anti-hazing message throughout the campus community.

5. Academic Realignment & Rebranding of Band Program

A significant aspect of the revitalization and realignment plan is to better align the band with the Department of Fine and Performing Arts. The band must function within the parameters outlined for other academic programs in the department with the same faculty, staff and student expectations. The music faculty will guide the rebranding for the S.O.S. Band, with input from students.
We have bright, talented students in the band. We are committed to supporting their well-rounded development as members of the greater campus community.