The Western Mustangs marching band might soon be playing a different tune. The group is seeking other avenues of funding after losing accreditation from the University Students’ Council.
The band, which has been a part of Western since 1938, lost its status when a review by the USC’s Student Life department found the insurance plan couldn’t cover accredited groups.
With this change, the band will no longer be entitled to direct funding from the USC. Initially, this left the organization with two options for funding: becoming a club or getting USC’s approval to become a student service.
Neither option is a perfect scenario for the group, according to marching band president Melanie Bechard.
Becoming a club would allow the band to continue operating autonomously, but it comes at a price.
“No club is guaranteed funding every year, and it does make our current members somewhat uncomfortable to think that we might receive no funding or insufficient funding in future years,” Bechard said.
“Furthermore, all clubs must be treated equally, and we have a few quirks that might create future problems,” she continued, citing Orientation Week performances as an example.
However, becoming a USC service is not without its problems. While it would guarantee funding for the group, it would also put the band at the mercy of the USC, according to the chair of Student Events Committee Brandon Sousa.
“If the marching band were a service,” said Sousa, “and they wanted to perform at a Western Mustangs game, but the USC wanted them to perform at USC-related event at the same time, they would be obligated to perform at the USC-event over the football game.”
If the band decides to go the student service route, it still must get approval from the USC, which could prove difficult.
“Some students might feel as though it would be inappropriate,” Bechard said. “Because we obviously do not exist for the same reasons as many of the existing services, such as PrideWestern or Ally Western.” She hopes the marching band could be accepted instead for the purpose of increasing school spirit.
Bechard said for now the band will seek ratification as a club, as it’s too late in the year for the band to approach the Student Events Standing Committee and become a service. However, she does leave it in the hands of future executives to decide whether the student service option is the better one.
Sousa hopes that other accredited groups will not be forced to make a decision either way. He explained that the USC could create a new policy for accredited groups and have groups apply on a case-by-case basis.
“I believe with further exploration of this matter, a more beneficial resolution for both groups can be reached.”