Controversial Actions By The Band
Irreverence has been a mainstay of the band through its near half-century as a scatter band. In the 1970s, one halftime show lampooned Cal student Patty Hearst's kidnapping with a formation called the "Hearst Burger": two buns and no patty. In 1999, when UCLA football players were caught in a handicapped parking scandal, the Band formed a handicapped symbol on the field, and wheeled the Stanford Tree in on a wheelchair. The band did recognize some limits, however, and although they regularly discussed a "Death and Medicine" show, including formations and song arrangements relating to Jayne Mansfield's death - "Saturday Night and I Ain't Got No Body" - and other current events, including Richard Nixon's phlebitis, they never did - and never intended to - in fact stage this halftime show.
The band also spelled out the initials SMUT (Stanford Marching Unit Team - an unofficial acronym) on the field before the 1972 Rose Bowl.
In 1972, the Band went from an all-male band to co-ed. The band's popularity during this time period is best reflected by an alumnus who sent a million dollar donation to the University with the stipulation that the Band be criticized. The President ripped up the check and returned it stating "We love the Band". This letter was proudly hung in the shak for many years.
The LSJUMB has been disciplined for controversial performances on several occasions:
- In 1986, the University suspended the band from traveling to the UCLA football game scheduled on November 8, 1986 after incidents in previous games that season. First, on October 11, 1986, an infamous incident of public urination happened following the home football game against the University of Washington. Second, during the halftime show of the home USC game on October 19, 1986, the band spelled out "NO BALLZ". Finally, for the next game they performed an anagram show and spelled out an anagrammed four-letter word ("NCUT"). After the UCLA game suspension was served, the band appeared at the Cal game wearing angel halos in an attempt to apologize and get invited to travel with the football team to a bowl game. The band attended the Gator Bowl that year, amid very close scrutiny.
- In 1990, Stanford suspended the band for a single game after their halftime show at the University of Oregon criticized the logging of the spotted owl's habitats in the northwest United States. The band used formations in the shape of a chainsaw and in the shape of the word OWL changing to AWOL. Governor Neil Goldschmidt (D-OR) issued a decree that the band not return to Oregon for several years; the band did not return until 2001. After the spotted owl incident, all halftime shows were reviewed and approved by Stanford's Athletic Department.
- In 1991, the University of Notre Dame banned the LSJUMB from visiting its campus after a halftime show at Stanford in which drum major Eric Selvik dressed as a nun and conducted the band using a wooden cross as a baton. (During the pregame show and first half of the game, the drum major had been dressed as an Orthodox Jew, where the wooden cross was part of a menorah-like baton.) After the halftime show, a female Notre Dame fan ran onto the field, approached from behind the unsuspecting Selvik, and forcibly ripped the nun habit off of his head. Selvik pursued and regained his habit from the attacker, who in the scuffle for the habit told the drum major he was "going to hell for this."
- In 1992, the Athletic Department pressured the LSJUMB to fire its announcers after one used the phrase "No chuppah, no schtuppa" at a San Jose State University game halftime show.
- In 1994, the Band was disciplined after nineteen members of the band skipped a field rehearsal in Los Angeles to play outside the L.A. County Courthouse during jury selection for the O. J. Simpson trial. The band's song selection included an arrangement of The Zombies' "She's Not There." Defense lawyer Robert Shapiro described the incident to the media as "a new low in tasteless behavior." Later that year, during the halftime show of the football game against USC (where Simpson had played football and won the 1968 Heisman Trophy), band members drove a white Ford Bronco with bloody handprints around the Stanford stadium track, an obvious allusion to the low-speed chase in which police followed a white Bronco carrying Simpson around the Los Angeles area.
- In 1997, the Band was again disciplined for shows lampooning Catholicism and the Irish at a game against Notre Dame. The Band put on a show entitled "These Irish, Why Must they Fight?" Besides the mocking supposedly stereotypical Irish-Catholic behavior, there was a Riverdance formation, and a Potato Famine joke, drawing criticism for its "tasteless" portrayal of Catholics. Both the band and the Stanford President Gerhard Casper subsequently apologized for the band's behavior.
- In 2002 and 2006, the Band was sanctioned for off-the-field behavior, including violations of the University alcohol policy.
- In 2004, the Band drew national attention and Mormon ire for joking about polygamy during a game against Brigham Young University. The Dollies appeared in wedding veils with the Band Manager of the time kneeling and "proposing" to each in turn as the announcer referred to marriage as "the sacred bond that exists between a man and a woman... and a woman... and a woman... and a woman... and a woman."
- The band's hijinks were given a wider audience when they became the subject of Alan Alda's appearance on the "Not My Job" segment on National Public Radio's Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! on September 9, 2006.(listen here)
- In 2006, the band was suspended by Stanford administrators when their former "Band Shak" was vandalized. After moving into a new $2.8 million facility, the previous Shak, a trailer that served as a temporary home for the band, was found with broken windows and profanities spray painted on the walls. Administrators believed members of the Band were responsible for the damage, as the band had believed the trailer was to be demolished the next day. The Band was placed on a provisional status for several months, and had many privileges taken away for the duration of the suspension, including the right to be freely student-run. The band was also barred from performing at halftime of the 2006 Big Game as a result. In March 2007, the University exonerated the individual Band members involved in the incident. It also charged the Band $8,000 for damages (though it initially estimated damages of $50,000). In July 2007, the Band was fully reinstated, and then in September 2007, the band's alcohol probation was also lifted.
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