UPDATE: UW Band to play Saturday; "humiliating" rituals took place - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

UPDATE: UW Band to play Saturday; "humiliating" rituals took place


Madison (WKOW) -- UW-Madison officials announced the marching band's suspension has been lifted and the more than 300 member band will peform Saturday during the Badgers home football game against Penn State.

   But Dean of Students Lori Berquam said an investigation found some band members engaged in humiliating rituals, including forcing band members to kneel and bite a sausage, and remove lingerie from male band members.

  "Our review confirmed that much of the behavior described in the complaints (from students) actually took place," Berquam said.   "These activities represent intimidating behavior and extremely poor judgment on the part of people who represent the university as ambassadors."

   Berquam also said band members were forced to spent several hours in a band bus.   Berquam confirmed some of the inappropriate conduct took place during a band trip to Michigan for a game last month.

   "This kind of conduct is personally embarassing to me,"   band director Mike Leckrone said.   As leader of the band, the buck stops here."

   "Along with my staff and student band leaders, we will take a major role in changing the culture of this band as we move forward.  There are actions we will take immediately, as well as long-term strategies that need to be identified and implemented.  I continue to be concerned about underlying cultural problems. If they persist, we will suspend again."

   Last week's suspension led to an unprecedented situation:  the UW football team played Ohio State at Camp Randall without a band performance.

   Berquam said other inappropriate actions by band members was excessive drinking, and the sleep deprivation of band members to the point of affecting their academic performance. 

  A report that students were fondled against their will was not substantiated.

   Band members Jon Alfuth and Alex Waskawic said they had been aware of some of the problems with band member behavior, and as leaders in the band, took actions to try to stop it, but did not report the problems to Leckrone.   Alfuth, Waskawic, Leckrone and Berquam said the inappropriate actions were limited to a minority of the band.   Berquam said while the inappropriate band actions were concerning, she did not feel any actions amounted to criminal conduct.

  Officials said more than 60 band members voluntarily came forward and provided information that confirmed the details of the complaints.

  Berquam said some band members may still face discipline.

  Leckrone said new steps to monitor and improve band behavior will include:

- Appointment of a staff member to work with band members and promote a positive culture change. This person will report directly to the dean of students.

- Review of the band as an educational activity in the College of Letters and Science. .

- Establishing an ongoing review and monitoring process of band staff to enhance their accountability for the behavior of members under their oversight.

- Additional changes to travel and performance policies, including prohibitions on unauthorized performances.   Leckrone said a planned a band performance at Lambeau Field may be cancelled.

  In fall 2006, the band was put on probation by then-Chancellor John Wiley for sexual hazing and harassment in connection to a band trip to Michigan.

   Leckrone said a harmful part of the band's culture must change.

  "I hope these solutions will provide our band members with accountability and dignity," he said.   "I hope that these changes will also ensure that our band will live up to our fans' expectations and those of the entire community."

   Berquam said there were band members who were the victims of humiliation and hazing who have quit the band in the last week.

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