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University of Wisconsin officials said Monday the investigation into the hazing incidents that prompted a one-week suspension of the marching band this fall is over.
UW Dean of Students Lori Berquam said she considered the investigation to be over, but added her office will still take into consideration any information given to them concerning the events.
“The bottom line is that the band, band director and field assistant are all interested in moving forward,” Berquam said.
The UW Offices of the Dean of Students had been charged with heading the investigation after allegations of hazing during a road trip to the University of Michigan surfaced in early October.
UW Associate Dean of Students Kevin Helmkamp, who conducted the investigation, said the investigation had confirmed all of the allegations to be true except for one, which had a “sexual fondling element.”
The hazing allegations confirmed by the investigation included underclassmen having to drink alcohol in excess, submit to unconventional haircuts and play sexually suggestive games.
Helmkamp added he could not reveal if any students had been kicked out of the band because he was not allowed to give out information about individual disciplinary actions.
According to Helmkamp, ODOS has hired Donna Freitag as liaison to the marching band, and their focus is now on the future and preventing any negative behaviors from occurring again. Freitag is a former assistant to Lisa Stone, UW women’s basketball coach.
Mike Leckrone, director of the UW Marching Band, said Freitag has brought to the band a “life-coach” approach similar to the programs available to student-athletes.
Leckrone said the marching band, unlike student athletes, has never had somebody to help the students deal with their lives as students and band members.
“We are a big organization,” Leckrone said. “A lot of students are in the same situation as athletes — we take up a lot of their time. … Some of the academic things I’m not prepared to handle.”
Leckrone said he has also changed the way road trips are supervised. Respected members of the band have been given the task of receiving and reporting complaints because students are often reluctant to report misbehavior to UW band staff.
Leckrone said another reason the band staff did not notice any of the behaviors is because the incidents were isolated. Leckrone added the media blew the reports out of proportion, citing the lack of disciplinary action taken against band staff.
“The description makes it seem more overt than it really is,” Leckrone said.
Despite reports by the Associated Press last week that students’ parents were upset about the one-game suspension, Leckrone said he had “no regrets” about how he handled the situation at the time.
He said with the information he had at the time some kind of quick action was necessary, adding he acted with the “long-term interests” of the band in mind.
“If there had been a delayed reaction and a serious situation came up, I would have really been criticized,” Leckrone said. “Any decision I made was going to be wrong in some peoples’ minds, and in some peoples’ minds I was going to be right.”
Leckrone said the most important thing is that the band has responded positively to the situation.
Since the suspension and public embarrassment, the rehearsals and performances have been great, he added.
“Some people could’ve put their tail between their legs and sulked about it, but that’s not what we got,” Leckrone said.