East Carolina University’s band director, along with the director of the School of Music and the dean of the College of Fine Arts and Communication released a statement yesterday, saying they will not support protests from band members moving forward.
William Staub, the director of Athletic Bands, Chris Ulffers, the director of the School of Music and Dr. Chris Buddo, dean of the College of Fine Arts and Communication said the 19 ECU Marching Pirates who kneeled during the National Anthem before the game have been approached and the situation has been handled.
“We have met with the band and the members have collectively reaffirmed their commitment to the unique privilege and responsibility that comes with wearing the uniform of the Marching Pirates,” they said in the statement. “College is about learning, and it is our expectation that the members of the Marching Pirates will learn from this experience and fulfill their responsibilities. While we affirm the right of all our students to express their opinions, protests of this nature by the Marching Pirates will not be tolerated moving forward.”
Jeff Compher, the director of athletics, said in a different statement sent out yesterday his department is also working on the incident.
“We are working with the University and the School of Music in response to the incident with the band prior to the game on Saturday,” said Compher. “While the Marching Band does not report to Athletics, we do count on them to be an important part of the game day experience.”
In response to the action taken by these students, ECU Chancellor Cecil Staton also released a statement Saturday on behalf of the university. In his statement, Staton said ECU recognizes these students’ abilities to protest and will respect their choices.
“East Carolina will safeguard the right to free speech, petition and peaceful assembly as assured by the U.S. Constitution,” said Staton in part of his message. “While we acknowledge and understand the disappointment felt by many Pirate fans in response to the events at the beginning of today’s football game, we urge all Priate students, supporters and participants to act with respect for each other’s views.”
Junior accounting major Rachel Potter was one of the marching band members who took part in the act. She said she wanted to be a part of a change and felt like this was the best action to take.
“If me and some friends kneeling during the national anthem helps us get the change to happen in our community then all of the booing and hate speech is worth it,” said Potter. “As a white person, I will never be able to understand what black people go through on a daily basis, but I can stand by their side and support the message that black lives really do matter.”
Band member Joshua Killian said the band met this weekend and decided to not say anymore about their actions to the media.
“We as the band stand together in support of starting the conversation, but we have decided to stop speaking and allow the rest of the world to speak while we continue to play and support our school and community,” said Killian.