Ds Scholarship

The March(ing Band) for Class Credit

Boston College football has been hit or miss this year. As a member of the marching squad this season, having to play during heavy losses can make it difficult to enjoy Saturdays. To encourage us after such disappointing games, our squad manager often repeats a gentle mantra:

“Whether the Eagles win or lose, the squad always wins.”

I have found that this is far from reality. The British Columbia administration denied the band common academic and financial opportunities that would have recognized the time and effort its members put in. As members of one of the Northeast’s most highly regarded college marching band programs, students in the BC Marching Band (BCMB) must receive some form of academic or financial reward – whether through scholarships or class credit.

BC is the only institution in the Atlantic Coast Conference that does not offer scholarships or class credit to marching troupe members. Of the 14 non-B.C. teams at ACC, 10 provide at least one credit hour per semester for orchestra students, while eight offer annual scholarships to each member of their group. Five of these 14 schools offer both stipends and tuition credit to band members. From these stats alone, it is clear that BC is falling behind by offering any form of support for its own domain.

If BCMB is just an extracurricular activity, one might ask the question: Why should marching band members in any college receive more support than members of other student organizations? The reason, as will be explained shortly, is the massive time commitment. Having been a part of many student organizations in British Columbia, I can confidently say that BCMB is one of the most time consuming non-sports organizations you can join. Like any other college marching band program, our season begins with a 10-day “band camp” in August, which includes 13 hours of continuous play, learning coaching, and a march in preparation for the upcoming football season.

This momentum continues throughout the season, as we train twice a week for three hours each during the fall. We also have to attend the band’s special events and miss out on other opportunities as a result. Each year, BCMB performs in all home football matches, Superfan 101, Pops on the Heights, and, often, a bowl game. Attendance at these events is mandatory, which means BCMB members miss out on other courses, backgrounds, and even much of the Thanksgiving and winter holidays. Everything for the band. The amount of sacrifice required at BCMB requires that the marching band members be compensated with some form of academic or financial support.

Although both scholarships and class credit are not available at BCMB, implementation of the scholarship program will be challenging. Given that BCMB regularly has more than 170 students, providing an annual scholarship to each member means that tens of thousands of dollars must be raised each year through the program to be awarded to students. Without a major donor or source of income to use in such a fund, creating a permanent BCMB scholarship as it exists would be nearly impossible.

Still, class credit is a very reasonable target for the band. After all, the vast majority of ACC bands offer a band as a music option of a class or two. Most of these programs are either pass/fail or allow students to opt out of receiving credit if they fear it will hurt their GPAs. If any of these methods were adopted, it would be a stress-free way to give BCMB members more flexibility in their schedules while rewarding them for their time at BC’s largest student organization. BC academic management should not be concerned that awarding class credit to BCMB could take students away from other arts and music programs – band is a stressful effort that I highly doubt any unmarried band students would consider doing in place of a proper arts class . It has a specific culture, mocked and admired by many, and it is simply more difficult than doing other arts classes one can take to achieve the essence of his arts. BC, like its ACC counterparts, could reasonably include a marching band as a music elective with a category credit.

The Screaming Eagles is often lauded as “the most visible student organization on campus.” As a mid-level trombone player in my freshman year, I tended to agree – not for me, but for many of the wonderful band members I’ve met in just a few months. BCMB dedicates hundreds of hours each year to practices for the purpose of entertaining thousands of students each day of the game and missing out on appropriate compensation for years. It’s time to let the Screaming Eagles reward their hard work in the form of class credit.

Featured Graphics Liz Schwab / heights editor


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