To: Columbia University Administration and Influencers
The time has come to restore one of Columbia’s few traditions. For forty-plus years, the Marching Band’s Orgo Night show has been a beloved and much anticipated event each semester. The University continues to promote Orgo Night in admissions literature as a fun and entertaining break from finals studying, and it is cited in published surveys of unique college traditions. The time has come to acknowledge that the decision in December of 2016 to ban the Orgo Night show from taking place in its traditional venue (Butler 209) was a mistake. It is time to recognize that the current Band leadership takes an appropriately sensitive approach to writing the script for the Orgo Night show and has not included material in the show or in advertising materials for many years that would justify punitive action from the University Administration.
The Band had to organize the show clandestinely this past winter in order to stage the show in Butler 209, but it went off without any issues or complaints. The cited reason or the original decision to ban the show from Butler has been debunked – there is plenty of quiet study space available elsewhere for those students who wish to avoid the distraction of the show. No student has ever been caught by surprise that the Orgo Night show is happening in Butler 209 at midnight on the Thursday immediately before the start of finals week. There really is no legitimate reason to continue to ban the Band from Butler.
Meanwhile, the decision has angered hundreds of otherwise supportive alumni. At this year’s Homecoming festivities, members of the Band Alumni Association and others circulated petitions supporting the Band and criticizing University administration for its decision instead of discussing more positive subjects. Many alumni have refused to make donations, including legacy gifts and annuities, in protest over the attack on the Orgo Night tradition. Engaged alumni who volunteered with the ARC or university committees have resigned. The Orgo Night decision has had negative ramifications for the University and it will continue to generate negative publicity, ill feelings, and disaffected alumni.
Reversing the decision will ameliorate these negative consequences and prevent their continuation into the future. Reversing the decision will have no negative consequences on campus, and in fact will restore a beloved campus Tradition that current students can pass down to their own children.
Abraham Lincoln famously said: “So soon as I discover my opinions to be erroneous, I shall be ready to renounce them.” This is an instance where a bad decision needs to be reversed.
It is time.