12.10.06

THE SENSITIVITY GULAG NEEDS A BAND. Even before the University of Wisconsin's new complaint procedure is in Ordnung, the sensitivity monitors have acted on a denunciation of the marching band.

What band members did, exactly, is still a mystery - even to some students - but it was described in an Oct. 3 letter from Chancellor John Wiley to band director Michael Leckrone as behavior "that can be seen as anything from boorish and offensive to patently dangerous and unlawful."

Wiley warned in the letter he would consider suspending the band's activities and travel or replacing its leadership if there were more reports of "gratuitous vulgarity, sexualized banter or joking, hazing, or other forms of demeaning conduct."

"I say this, you know, because I do not feel I have a choice: we either solve the problem now, and the band you have built to such legendary proportions survives, or we look at virtual extinction for a significant period of time," Wiley warned in the letter to Leckrone.

The university released the letter, labeled "Personal and Confidential," on Wednesday in response to an open records request from The Associated Press. Wiley personally warned band members on Oct. 5 that such behavior would not be tolerated.

Chancellor Wiley has not yet made the band a nameless number on a list that was later misplaced, but the threat is in the air.

In the letter, Wiley ordered band members and field assistants to attend training to prevent harassment. He also appointed an ombudsman - Eden Inoway-Ronnie, an aide to Provost Patrick Farrell - to meet with band members to confidentially discuss any concerns.

Casey Nagy, Wiley's top aide, said the behaviors in question violated the band's code of conduct and were repeated despite previous warnings from the administration. He said some of the reports were from the bus trip home from Ann Arbor.

"If these behaviors recur, they are immediately at risk of losing travel to any postseason competition," he said.

As for hazing, Nagy described it as "any kind of conduct that's forced on another individual or denigrates their sense of person or space."

Leckrone said he didn't think it was appropriate for him to comment to the press or the entire band about what happened, even though some students were in the dark as to what their peers had done.

Those band members should be grateful that associating with enemies of the people is not yet contrary to the Wisconsin judicial code.

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