Hazing allegations silence the Ocean of Soul weeks before Homecoming
By: Lisa M. Smith
College football games and the band go hand in hand. Depending on how you ask, some people attend football games just to hear the band’s performance. Undoubtably, Texas Southern University’s award-winning Ocean of Soul Marching Band has always drawn a crowd.
The Ocean of Soul was founded in 1969 by Benjamin J. Butler II. Under the direction of Richard Lee, the Ocean of Soul has performed at university home football games, on national television, and before crowds at professional athletic games.
The Ocean has gained a reputation for its sound, heavy beat, precision drills, and intricate dance routines. Whether it is the drumline, trumpets, trombones, or any of the other instruments, the Ocean is sure to have the crowd up cheering and dancing in their seats.
Just weeks before the Tigers’ homecoming parade and football game against University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff Lions, Texas Southern’s band has been suspended and under investigation amid allegations of hazing. The allegations involves the trumpet section and an allegation of excessive paddling. The occurrence said to have happened Wednesday, September 19th, off campus. There were no serious injuries but the university has a zero-tolerance policy for hazing. A TSU press release states, “In an effort to educate its students about the dangers of hazing, the university presented multiple training and informational sessions to band members and other student organizations. While it is not known at this time how many students were involved in this incident, it is believed to involve one section of the band.” If the investigation takes that long, how does a college celebrate homecoming without their main source of entertainment.
This comes in the wake of the hazing death of a Florida A&M University’s drum major Robert Champion, who was beaten to death in a hazing ritual. Florida A&M band members face criminal charges, and Champion’s family has filed a civil suit against the university. In years past, hazing practices were typically considered harmless pranks or comical antics associated with young men in college fraternities. Hazing now has extended far beyond college fraternities and is experienced by young men and women looking to become a part of a school group, university organizations, athletic teams, the military, and other social and professional organizations, as seen in the latest cases. I remember when I was in school, it was called “Hell Night.” Is being apart of any organization that important to be subjected to hazing? There are more students being hazed and just aren’t coming forth.
According to a written statement, the university says “the band is suspended until further notice. “TSU student affairs personnel will take appropriate action.” If proven to be true, students could be expelled or even charged. This isn’t the first time the Texas Southern University’s band has been involved in a scandal. Almost twenty years ago while in Japan, band students were accused of stealing thousands of dollars in electronics.