Members of the Tuskegee University marching band have threatened to stop performing at school-sponsored events until issues of leadership, funding, and recruitment are resolved by the university’s administration.
The Marching Crimson Pipers released a statement detailing their concerns surrounding the band program.
“With the cooperation of SGA, a student questionnaire was provided at the beginning of the season to address current band members’ opinions on the program,” the band said in the statement. “Since joining the band, several members have expressed their concerns with the lack of growth not only in their musicianship but the program itself.
“In order to operate as an efficient collegiate musical ensemble, qualified and accountable leadership is a necessity. From the settings of rehearsal to vital performances, the band requires dependable staff who will not only guide us with strong leadership but who will also support us in the areas that we cannot support ourselves.”
In the statement, the band expressed concerns around extreme lack of communication and transparency from its leadership; including not being updated on new uniforms, wind suits, instruments, and upcoming performances.
Official Statement on behalf of the concerned members of the Tuskegee University Marching Crimson Piper Band#WeNeedLeadership#WeNeedStructure#WeNeedFunding#NewBandDirector#SaveTheBand pic.twitter.com/bNUXXWA5Bh
— Tuskegee University SGA (@TuskegeeUnivSGA) October 23, 2021
“Some of these issues are unacceptable, however even if they were to arise, being properly informed in advance of such topics would allow us to adapt to these situations more dynamically, resulting in a better overall product.”
The band included requests for “sufficient salaries for band staff, coverage of travel costs, and fair scholarship funding for its qualified members.”
“We need proper scholarship funding to be able to recruit the proper talent but also to keep that talent here,” the statement read. “Tuskegee is a privately funded institution making our cost to attend higher than a lot of other HBCUs. .When recruiting, we need to be able to assure potential recruits that the hours they put in for this organization will be rewarded with financial security.”
The letter also stated, “Through our own individual research, we have found that we are one of the most underfunded programs on campus. We feel that is unacceptable, considering this is a program that operates year-round no matter the weather.
“We will no longer allow ourselves to be exploited simply on the basis that we ‘signed up for it.’ And we will no longer allow for the apathetic nature that has been granted to us, as we strive to not only hold our leadership accountable but our fellow band members both current and future.”
According to HBCUsports.com, Tuskegee President Charlotte O. Morris released a statement in response to the band’s allegations.
“The Marching Crimson Piper band members are an important part of the Tuskegee family. We look forward to meeting with band leaders to discuss and respond to their concerns,” Morris stated. “We thank the Tuskegee community for their support as we work to resolve these issues together.”
Band representatives met with university officials on Monday, but no resolutions have been announced, The Associated Press reported.