- Bowie State University, an HBCU in Maryland, suspended its marching band in response to allegations of hazing, The Washington Post reported. The university's pep, concert and jazz bands are also affected, according to The Baltimore Sun.
- In a statement Wednesday, the public university offered few details about the action but said it "found sufficient evidence to confirm the existence of hazing activities." It added "further investigation" is needed to determine next steps through the student judicial process.
- The band, Symphony of Soul, is a fixture of the university, and its suspension comes days before the football team plays for the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association championship.
While hazing at colleges and universities is frequently linked to fraternity life and sports teams, it is less often attributed to the band. But the lack of publicity doesn't mean it's not happening there, too.
In 2015, researchers from Oregon State University and the University of Kentucky reported that among a sample of Division I colleges in 30 states, almost 30% of band members surveyed said they observed hazing among their ranks, most commonly verbal abuse. Another study found that five in 10 students affiliated with performing arts had faced hazing — compared with seven in 10 students on varsity sports teams or in Greek life — and suggested the issue is often overlooked in areas of college where it is not traditionally reported.
A small handful of incidents have drawn attention to hazing among college and university bands. In 2011 a Florida A&M University drum major died following "multiple blunt trauma blows" endured in a band hazing incident, and in 2014 Ohio State University fired the director of its acclaimed marching band in the wake of allegations of hazing.
Hazing has gained additional attention on campuses since the deaths of four students in 2017 following fraternity rush events, which caused many colleges to develop or push for stricter rules. Pennsylvania recently passed legislation that requires secondary and post-secondary schools to have anti-hazing policies and reporting procedures in place. It also strengthens penalties and makes hazing that results in injury or death a potential felony. The law is named for a Penn State University student who died in 2017 as a result of injuries sustained after drinking excessively at a fraternity pledge event.
At least two organizations aim to help colleges address the issue: Stop Hazing Now, which offers data and educational materials on the topic, and HazingPrevention.org, a nonprofit involved with a coalition working to change state laws and improve colleges' responses to hazing.