A closed door

David S. Black

In the recent article about the Virginia Pep Band (“Virginia Pep Band plans protest for Saturday afternoon,” 3/25/2009) Leonard Sandridge, University executive vice president and chief operating officer, was quoted as saying “the status of the Pep Band has been clear from the beginning” and that “no new developments about it have arisen.” I have great respect for Sandridge but am compelled to report that his statement is not complete.

In July 2005, I spoke with Sandridge in my then-capacity as President of the Pep Band’s alumni support group (Friends of the Virginia Pep Band). During that call, Sandridge told me that, while the administration had no existing plans to invite the Pep Band to perform at Olympic sports, the door was not closed forever. Sandridge told me that if the Pep Band demonstrated a consistent record of positive contributions to University life over a period of years, he would be open to reconsidering a role for the Pep Band in the future. In short, he kept our hope alive.

Since July 2005, we have worked diligently to turn that hope into a reality. We provided regular updates to Sandridge of the Pep Band’s good works, always gently repeating our hope. Sandridge did not dispel it until last month.

When hopes are pinned on an “open door,” a decision to close that door forever is a significant “new development.” Sandridge’s announcement last month hit us like a ton of bricks. The administration’s policy toward the Pep Band is divisive and heartbreaking. I hope that Sandridge will recall what he told us and reopen the door for the Pep Band.

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