BOWIE, Md. (WJZ) — For a small campus, Bowie State University fields a large marching band — the Symphony of Soul, or SOS for short.
The band, along with the pep and jazz bands, have been ordered to stop practicing and performing after the administration received reports of hazing incidents.
“I’m just trying to play my music, man. I miss playing my music man,” One band member said.
It caught band member Mya Jones by surprise.
“So we’re in the dark,” she said. “Like, what’s going on?”
An e-mail to students did not explain what sort of hazing has been reported, or how widespread it is.
The administration would only state, “We have found sufficient evidence to confirm the existence of hazing activities; therefore, all performance activities remain suspended, including travel to the CIAA football championship game this weekend.”
While the suspension is in effect, an investigation will be conducted.
But disappointment for some band members has already taken hold.
“I feel like we don’t deserve this. We put too much time, too much money especially, just for it to be taken away,” Jones said.
The university hopes to conclude investigating as quickly as possible and once again let the music play.
Here is the updated statement sent out by the university:
“First and foremost our top priorities are assuring the safety of our students and maintaining the integrity of the university band program. We have found sufficient evidence to confirm the existence of hazing activities; therefore, all performance activities remain suspended, including travel to the CIAA football championship game this weekend. Further investigation is needed to determine next steps to be taken through the student judicial process, but we remain committed to concluding the process as soon as possible and resuming the normal operations of the band,”
Students are pushing back, and have launched an online petition that’s gathered nearly 600 signatures. They have also been tweeting using the hashtag #ReinstateTheSOS
One alumna wrote, “I stand with my family as we petition to reinstate the band,”
Former Drum Major at Morgan State University Edward Evans said marching bands are important to historically black colleges and universities.
“Marching bands at an HBCU, they are the money maker, they do bring the heads and the seats. They fill the seats in the stadiums. They take band very seriously at Bowie State,” Evans said.
But the allegations are also being taken very seriously, although Bowie State has been tight-lipped about specifics.
Seven years ago, a Florida A&M University Drum Major died after a hazing ritual on board a bus. One ex-band member did prison time- after a manslaughter conviction.