Making waves

TSU Ocean of Soul band is suspended from playing at football game pending hazing investigation

TSU Ocean of Soul band is suspended from playing at football game pending hazing investigation

Texas Southern University's Ocean of Soul joined the ranks of a growing number of marching bands embroiled in allegations of hazing.

Responding to an incident reported Wednesday night, university officials suspended the entire band from playing at Thursday evening's face-off against Sam Houston State at BBVA Compass Stadium.

 “It’s just embarrassing it’s from the band," said TSU freshman DiDi Chiedu. "You usually get this from frats and sororities, but the band is a respectable organization at our school." 

 School authorities have suspended the band until further notice as TSU police investigate the charges and conduct interviews with Ocean of Soul members and staff as well as with band director Richard L. Lee.

"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," read a statement released by TSU, which also reported that band members have been presented with multiple training sessions on the dangers of hazing. 

CultureMap was unable to reach university officials for additional comment.

Eva Pickens, the university's associate vice president for communications, revealed to KPRC Ch. 2 that the allegations involved "excessive paddling" within the band's trumpet section.

“Hazing is probably never going to stop,” TSU freshman DiDi Chiedu told KHOU. “It’s just embarrassing it’s from the band. You usually get this from frats and sororities, but the band is a respectable organization at our school. It’s ridiculous.”

Increased awareness

After the 2011 death of Florida A&M band member Robert Champion — and the subsequent resignation of FAMU president James Ammons — universities across the country are keeping a watchful eye on campus hazing rituals, particularly those within marching bands. September already has witnessed band suspensions at both North Carolina Central University and Clark Atlanta University.

Interestingly, TSU's incident occurred right in the middle of National Hazing Prevention Week, one of the many efforts to bring the secret world of hazing out of the shadows. 

"There's an enormous amount of shame involved in these practices, which often keeps people fr om talking about it," said Tracy Maxwell, director of HazingPrevention.org.

"There's an enormous amount of shame involved in these practices, which often keeps people from talking about it," Tracy Maxwell, director of HazingPrevention.org, told CultureMap on Friday. "Having a frank discussion about hazing is paramount, especially among the students. They're the only ones who can change this."

Maxwell described hazing as a ritual that exists out of habit and stated that, unfortunately, most schools tend not to even address the issue until an incident reaches the media. Simple recognition is often most difficult step for universities. But with persistent education efforts, she hopes signs of improvement could be on the horizon.

"We've been hearing more and more stories about people who were hazed leaving these organization when its their turn to be the perpetrators," she said. "This idea that hazing binds a group together is misleading. What is often does is unite those getting hazing against the perpetrators. And then the cycle continues."