Someone Get the Band Aid Much has been made recently about the wild and crazy antics of Alma Mater's pride and joy, The Columbia University Marching Band, also known throughout creation as simply the "Cleverest Band in the World." Apparently, there are some powerful individuals around the University who would like to see either an imminent disbanding of the band or annexing of the "Clever Ones" by the Music Department. In expressing this wish, opponents of the band have dubbed its unique method of showing school spirit as obnoxious, distasteful, and disgraceful, among other things. Perhaps the pervading opinion toward the band has best been articulated by Athletic Director Dr. John Reeves. "Two years ago," Reeves was quoted as saying in last Monday's Spectator, "I told the Columbia College Dean of Students Roger Lehecka, that in my opinion I would not allow the band to return to Wien Stadium...Their behavior was inhospitable, unethical, and at times vulgar." Who am I to argue that the word choice in a few of those clever cheers isn't perhaps a tad too crude? In fact, I think it's pretty safe to say that the band's shenanigans are not exactly fit for small children. (I'd rate it about PG-13.) It should also be noted, however, that the "Cleverest Band in the World" has many cheers which reverberate the wonderful essence of the Columbia undergraduate experience. Who among us hasn't felt at least a twinge of school spirit upon hearing the Clever Ones ask an official, "Hey ref, did crafty Odysseus poke out your only eye?" Now, that's putting the Core Curriculum to good use! But let's get something straight: I don't wanna be the guy who's gonna challenge Columbia's "powers that be" in their desire to ban the band from Student Activities until it can actually play music other than Guns 'N Roses' "Sweet Child of Mine." I mean, they're not the Boston Pops. I am going to be a guy, however, who will feel a deep sense of loss next year when I return to Alma Mater for Homecoming and see the Clever Ones clad in plaid. Whether or not we're fans of the Marching Band, I think it's fair to say that we all must acknowledge the fact that the band as we know it has played a significant tune in Lions' history. Maybe it is time for the "anti-band" to follow the example of the football team and ship-shape up. I've been trying to recognize Sans Souci for years now. Nevertheless, as a senior who is sad to see the Era of Cleverness come to an end, I would like to point out that the band has improved substantially since my freshman year, when it seemed like a dedicated dozen of frenetic fans who couldn't put away their Cracker Jack prizes. In fact, based on my own experience as a face in the Columbia crowd, it seems to me that the marching band has been the most loyal of Lion faithful. For the last two years at Homecomings too cold and too nasty for student critics of the band to make an appearance, who did I look over and see doing pushups in the rain after every Lions score? That's right, the barons of banter, the sultans of satire, the Cleverest Band in the World. Play on, band. Play on! (Or at least keep juggling those knives.)
Another article from this day's Spec was a satirical prediction of the Commencement address in spring 2002. It included the following bit:
Y'know, it's funny to think of it now, but when I first got here, I actually wrote for the Spec! (Pause for hardy laughter). That was before Columbia University took it over and turned it into a public relations organ. Remember how back then, students actually wrote about what happened on campus? It's much better now that a team of highly trained propaganda specialists write the articles. Back then, there were lots of independent student groups-the International Socialist Organization, the Black Student Organization, the Columbia University Marching Band - Actually, I think the band was the first group to be taken over by the administration. Maybe if we'd all paid more attention then, they wouldn't have been able to take over all the other groups. But who's to say life isn't better now that all the groups are Columbia run?