New York Post       Sept. 24 2002


by Kate Sheehy

Fordham Fumes Over Columbia's Church Joke

Columbia University's marching band hit the Catholic Church below the belt
during a weekend football game - by announcing that rival Fordham's
tuition is "going down like an altar boy," fuming critics charge.  The
halftime gibe over the loudspeakers from a wisecracking band leader
prompted everyone from the president of Jesuit-run Fordham University to
incensed Catholic students to demand a formal apology from Columbia.

"It seems to be a tradition at the Ivy League school that its marching
band talk trash and push the envelop on decorum," Fordham spokeswoman
Elizabeth Schmalz said last night. "However . . . it's never been so
blatantly anti-Catholic."

But the Columbia sophomore who wrote and read the remark during Saturday's
game against Fordham said no apology is coming from him.

To open the halftime festivities, the band's "poet laureate," Andy Hao,
announced to the crowd that, "As well as the Mets' season going up in
smoke [and] Fordham tuition going down like an altar boy . . . the band
now presents an all-star gala."

"We still think it's funny, and I'm sorry, but unfortunately, sometimes
[the band's humor] hurts people," Hao said. "I'm not out there to hurt
people's feelings, but I'm not out there to defend anyone either.

"If they're offended by those things, maybe they should think about the
victims of the church's sex-abuse scandals," said Hao, who calls himself a
former Catholic.

Band leader Tom Berman said the script got the approval of a Barnard
University [sic] dean who monitors the group.

Fordham student Liz Kennedy, who started a petition drive, said it should
have been pulled.

"It's not funny. It wasn't clever. It's stupid," she said. "This was a
prejudice against a group of people and the faith of a school. It's also
offensive to people who have suffered sexual abuse."

The Catholic League also jumped into the fray, saying the insult shows
"that all the campus talk about multiculturalism, diversity, inclusion and
tolerance means very little when applied to Catholics."

Columbia officials couldn't be reached for comment last night.