The San Francisco Chronicle uncovered a memo that outlines a sexual harassment complaint against the UC-Davis marching band filed in May by Tom Slabaugh, the band's former director. The memo cited "ridiculous, disturbing, and offensive" incidents during his tenure last year.
Among the list of alleged incidents and behaviors, in no particular order:
- Drunken hazing
- The "naked van" tradition, where all students in the band vehicle strip down to their underwear
- At least one lewd photo that featured four band members simulating urination and another photo that he said showed the equipment manager "simulating oral copulation" on a trombone player
- Two players who wrote "I (heart) BOOBS" in masking tape on the band van's window, prompting a motorist in Oregon to complain to the university
- Male band members periodically dropping their pants at rehearsals, while female members strip to their bras
- At least one evening practice that was disrupted when a bass drummer began performing lap dances
- A barrage of obscene insults and gestures during and outside rehearsals after he tried to punish students
- A Christmas card signed by trombone players with a picture of Santa Claus that read, "I saw you masturbating."
- The "F- Slabaugh" message on the whiteboard when he brought his 9-year-old daughter to sell Girl Scout cookies
Slabaugh, 44, took stress leave from UC-Davis in September and is also completing a doctorate in musical arts from the University of Washington. The veteran band director has called the Cal Aggie band a "hostile work environment."
In response to the complaints, the university has put the band through sexual harassment training and has removed offensive "signs, pictures, condoms, etc." from the band room walls, according to a university sexual harassment official. The school is now considering whether to give Slabaugh the power to expel unruly band members.
The band itself is hardly traditional, describing itself online as "fast, furious, and foaming at the mouth...bold, blue, and bitchin'." The band is student run and has had a reputation of being unruly, which has been exacerbated by the fact that the faculty director has no authority to expel members of the band. Before Slabaugh, the organization had not had a faculty director in four years.