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Virginia Pep Band plans protest for Saturday afternoon

By Tom Christenson, Cavalier Daily Associate Editor

Before the start of the men’s lacrosse game Saturday, the Virginia Pep Band will protest the University’s allegedly reiterated decision to disallow it from playing at varsity Olympic sporting events not attended by the Cavalier Marching Band.

“The administration’s decision to exclude the Pep Band should alarm all students who care about student leadership at the University,” stated Alexander Houck, Pep Band director and third-year College student, in a press release. “The Pep Band has a long and proud tradition of student-led service to our varsity Olympic sports teams.”

The Virginia Pep Band was disbanded in 2003 following a skit — in which band members portrayed West Virginia students in pigtails and overalls — during the Continental Tire Bowl football game against West Virginia, Houck said. University administrators deemed the skit inappropriate after the West Virginia governor demanded an apology.

In July 2005, Leonard Sandridge, University executive vice president and chief operating officer, said University officials would potentially consider allowing the Virginia Pep Band to resume playing at varsity Olympic sporting events if the Pep Band “made positive contributions to University life over several years,” according to the press release.

Nearly four years later, Sandridge told the Pep Band Feb. 16 that its expulsion from varsity sports was final, Houck said. This announcement came as a surprise to Pep Band members and alumni, who had operated under the assumption that the 2005 agreement still was in place.

Sandridge said the status of the Pep Band, though, has been clear from the beginning, and said no new developments about it have arisen. In an e-mail, Sandridge noted that the Pep Band is a student organization still considered to be an important part of University life, but one whose role primarily has been relegated to serving club sport programs and playing at student and community events. Band duties associated with varsity Olympic teams are now handled by the Cavalier Marching Band.

Athletic Director Craig Littlepage stated in an e-mail that a series of factors contributed to the creation of the University’s marching band.

“The goal was to achieve a uniformity across all athletics events with the sound (music), the look (uniforms), and leadership or supervisory support,” Littlepage said.

Houck and other band members, though, remain displeased with the University’s allegedly reiterated decision to ban the group.
“The administration has reneged on its promises to undergrads and alumni,” Houck said.

Because Pep Band members and alumni feel slighted, a protest is scheduled to take place Saturday in front of Klöckner Stadium from 11:15 to 11:45 a.m., just before the men’s lacrosse game against Maryland is scheduled to begin. Lacrosse is a varsity sport at the University.

“I hope the Pep Band will continue to be active because it serves a number of our students,” Sandridge said.


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