It was approximately seven years ago this Saturday when, while attending a homecoming game with my father, I conclusively decided that Columbia was the only institution of higher education for me. You must be wondering what it was about that mystical day which so strongly compelled me to this university and this one alone. Was it the architectural iconoclasm of Baker Field, or the grand airs of success of yuppie alumni fans, or the might of the football team which so endeared me to this institution? Certainly not, for these were mere aesthetics, and I, at age 14, was quite deep: it was the marching band, clad in jeans and blue face paint with makeshift instruments and unconventional formations, and most importantly, their witty script and cheers, which enchanted me from first glance. The marching band to me epitomized the insouciant Columbia student: bright, creative, indifferent to conservative standards, and witty - effusively witty - and unconventional. Academically superior in the classroom, dynamic, and fun-loving in life! I had found my people, my calling. I marveled at the band in peaceful content as the CU quarterback fumbled and the crowed roared in discontent. Four years later as an entering freshman, my immediate goal was to join the band. Indeed, they were a motley crew, and I adored them for just that. I started out playing the trumpet and eventually advanced to the fork and spoon, but throughout I remained faithful to our goal of supporting the football team at home and away. And that's exactly what we did. Whether playing the mailbox or the tuba, my band colleagues and I were among the few students to consistently support the team, through monsoons and snow storms, brilliant wins and devastating losses. But the marching band of my freshmen year was perhaps the last remnant of the old and dedicated regime. Since then, the state of band affairs has severely declined, and with it, the pure Columbia spirit has been lost. Understandably, the administration has cracked down on the band, endeavoring to reform its liberal ways and conform it to the plaid-wearing stuffy conservative bands of Harvard and Yale, but in doing so, they have and are unknowingly killing the Columbia spirit. The Columbia marching band will never live up to the administration's ideal because, quite frankly, the enthusiasm on the part of the student body n'existe pas. We are without it, and that is precisely what makes us Columbia students. Essentially, the points of my nostalgic ramblings is to underline the fact that the marching band, the way it has been for the past 30 years, is a group of dedicated individuals endeavoring to pass on a tradition so quintessential to the Columbia persona while simultaneously entertaining a crowd. Indeed, the harsh suppression of the band's joi de vivre on the part of the administration is a sad commentary. What the administration does not realize is that by trying to conform the band to conventional standards, they are severely hindering the individualistic, exuberantly intelligent, witty, and delightfully cynical nature of the Columbia essence. In writing this I don't expect the administration to change its course of action against the band, nor do I expect any supportive sentiment on the part of fellow Columbians, but what I do want to instill in the administration's conscious is that we, the Columbia students, whether current band members or not, are the future Alfred Lerners. As a senior about to embark on a career of great wealth and success as a powerful banker, I urge the administration to critically question and understand the consequences of their current and future actions toward the student body (much in the same way we have been taught in our outstanding education here), as the way in which we are treated as undergraduates will inevitably affect the way in which we treat Columbia as alumni. Enough said.
Also on this day, the Wall Street Journal ran an article about Ivy League football. There was a little chart of each school's claims to fame, outlook for this season, etc. Columbia's claim to fame was "Set former NCAA record of 44 straight losses in '80s. Irreverent band once formed bridge and car in 'tribute' to Sen. Edward Kennedy."