It hasn’t been a good few years for Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario.
The University has canceled Homecoming celebrations ever since 2008, due to the escalating levels of drunkenness and violence associated with the event. Last summer, the university was told to address the “culture of drinking” so pervasive on campus that two first year students died of drinking-related incidents within a month of each other. Recently, the university was forced to suspend its Fine Arts program due to lack of resources.
And now? The entire Queen’s University Marching Band has been suspended due to the discovery of sexist and degrading materials circulating within the band. The Queen’s Bands, a mainstay and pride of the university for nearly 100 years, is the largest and oldest University marching band in Canada. However, their prestige is turning to shame today, as a news release from the University announced their suspension after “materials and member guides circulated within the Bands and containing offensive language that is particularly demeaning to women recently came to the attention of the administration and the AMS.”
Vice-Provost and Dean of Student Affairs, Ann Tierney, stated “The materials, and the behaviours they promote, are unacceptable. They point to a sub-culture within the Bands where explicit, disrespectful and degrading language marginalizes community members who may remain silent for fear of exclusion. We are committed to supporting the Bands as they take action to ensure all of their activities reflect the values and principles of Queen’s as a welcoming, safe, positive and inclusive environment.”
What did the materials contain that was so horrible? Song lyrics such as “I wish all the ladies were pies on a shelf and [if I] was the baker, I’d eat ‘em all myself.” This was as mild as it got. Other lyrics and pamphlets distributed by the band included gems such as “I don’t want an oboe up the a–hole” and describing band members with phrases like “people with d—s in their mouths” and “Sucking nipple and biting the t– since 1905.” Other, more explicit phrases and pages from the songbook are published in the Queen’s University Newspaper, the Journal — including references to rape, explicit racism and bestiality.
The band is suspended from playing for the remainder of the fall term. They have also been suspended from appearing in Toronto’s Santa Claus parade, scheduled for Sunday. All members of the band must submit to human rights training, and actively participate in creating a plan to change the culture of the organization. And all copies of the offending materials must be destroyed.
Can the band recover? Only time will tell.
Photo Credit: runJMrun on Flickr.