The Tuskegee marching band threatened to no longer participate in school-sponsored events until issues regarding funding, leadership, and recruitment are resolved.
In a lengthy statement issued on behalf of the Marching Crimson Pipers, the band expressed concerns with stagnation of the program and individual growth.
“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 statement read. “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.”
The band also called for better funding that includes sufficient salaries for band staff, travel cost coverage, and enhanced scholarship funding for members.
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
The band also outlined what was described as “multiple occurrences” of members’ “dietary needs not being met” on trips and members reportedly having to cover the cost of meals.
“We have experienced a clear lack of motive for a successful/progressive program from the university and band staff which we have associated with complacency,” the statement said. “Oftentimes, we are asked to do things by the university, and we are not properly acknowledged or rewarded for our hard efforts. We feel as if we are just being exploited by the university and not recognized as an organization that functions within the university.”
In addition, members of the alleged they experienced a lack of communication and transparency from the band and school leadership as it relates to rehearsals, updates on uniforms and instruments that are often in disrepair.
“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.”
“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.”
Tuskegee President Charlotte P. Morris released a statement after being made aware of the allegations by members of the band.
“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 wrote We thank the Tuskegee community for their support as we work to resolve these issues together.”
A resolution between the school and the band has not been officially disclosed.