The Rice University Marching Owl Band has quite the reputation around these parts for its outrageous behavior and halftime shows. Just ask the Aggies and Tulsa University. But when compared to the U.C. Davis band, the MOB is nothing more than a shameful wannabe.
The U.C. Davis band is a student-run organization with virtually no university oversight. And until last year, it had had no faculty director for four years. Enter one Tom Slabaugh, who was brought on board in 2007 to bring the band under control.
I suggest reading this story to get the full gist of what Slabaugh had to deal with, but suffice to say that I don’t even think the kids in American Pie contemplated many of these activities at their band camp. There’s the naked van, where the band members, on their way to road games, strip in the van. There’s urinating down an elevator shaft. There are men dropping their pants while women strip to their bras during outdoor band practice. They simulated oral sex for band photos – and sold the photos on the internet.
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Reading the story, you can’t help but feel that Otter, Boon, Hoover, Bluto, and D-Day would’ve been too meek and mild for this group – though there’s nothing to indicate that the U.C. Davis band killed a horse in the Dean’s office. But the U.C. Davis band did send Slabaugh an X-rated Christmas card and write visible obscenities on the chalkboard when he brought his nine-year-old daughter up to visit. (Really, what was the guy thinking? He should’ve known what this group was like, so why subject to his daughter to the abuse?)
Slabaugh is seeking retribution, however, and he has filed a sexual harassment claim against the band and the university and has taken stress leave. This isn’t the first time the band’s had sexual harassment problems, either, though they managed to make it 16 years between complaints.
This is clearly a program out of control, though I’m sure the band kids probably think it is just all good, clean fun. So, the next time you want to bitch about the MOB, just think, it could be much worse.
For the Marching Owl Band could be trying to out-Davis the U.C. Davis band. For if they were to try that, unsportsmanlike complaints for calling a football coach a douchebag would be the least of the band’s problems. – John Royal