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This entry is part of an assignment called the "Stanford Cultures Project" for a sophomore writing course, Cultural Interfaces, at Stanford University. To learn more about the assignment, read this blogpost

"A new low in tasteless behavior" -- Robert Shapiro, part of OJ Simpson Defense Team

"I wish we had a band like that" -- Robert Birgeneau, Chancellor of UC Berkeley


The Leland Stanford Junior *pause* University Marching Band is one of the most controversial aspects of Stanford University life. Amongst students, alumni, faculty, administrators, and fans, the band represents either immense school pride or absolute embarrassment. The difference between the LSJUMB and other "traditional" bands, for those of you who don't know, is the utter disregard for any and all organization, composure, and traditional practicum. LSJUMB is a scatter band; they don't walk in straight lines, they don't wear typical uniforms, and somehow despite the chaos on the field, they manage to display interesting and entertaining story-lines on the field.


The Band partakes in many activities throughout the year that are... um... unique to Stanford University. The most well-known and well-loved of these traditions is Band Run. Band Run is the Stanford version of the Running of the Bulls. The Band leads the way by running an elaborate course across campus chased by the entire undergraduate student body. Band Run culminates in the main Quad with a rousing rendition of "All Right Now" amid euphoric students spelling out the name of the University. This tradition is always the first night of freshmen move-in, just to make sure the froshies are settled properly. To say the least, the Band makes Stanford one of the most fun and different universities in the world.

The Band also claims two very important symbols of Stanford U: the Tree and the Dollies. The school's unofficial mascot, the Tree, is selected every year during a grueling week of "tryouts". Candidates perform various stunts around campus to impress the Band and former Trees. Last year one of the contestants swallowed a live snake during the auditions, but rest easy, he was disqualified (not even the Band is that crazy). And because of such behavior, the Tree always gets a breathalyzer test before each home football game.


The Dollies are the beloved five females who comprise the school's unofficial cheerleaders, on-field and on-court at every Cardinal sporting event. The Tree and Dollies are certainly a point of pride for the school. Even ESPN's Pat Forde listed performing as the Stanford Tree for a game as one of the top ten "things to do to fulfill your life before kicking the bucket."


Despite the unique flavor that the Band brings to the university, its behavior at venues across the country have caused many to look upon the entire culture of the program with disdain. As with any other band, the LSJUMB travels with the football team, basketball team and other athletic teams as they each play their games at other universities. At halftime, a show ensues with an interesting storyline that refers to something relating to the theme of the visiting university. It isn’t common for the halftime shows to supersede the game in terms of lasting impact…unless you’re a part of LSJUMB. At various universities the across America Stanford’s marching band has actually been banned from attending sporting events due to some of the skits they’ve put on. Notre Dame has denied the band access to its university because of a particular storyline in which the band implied that the priests and nuns were hypocrites and not as proper as they are thought to be. So when the band came out on the field dressed as nuns and priests with beers in their hands and humping each other…you can imagine how that went over with the crowd. However, the LSJUMB is probably the only band in the history of...let’s say ,western civilization!! to be banned from a state, not just a university but an actual state. In 1990 the band performed at an Oregon State-Stanford football game. During the halftime show they poked fun at the state’s struggling logging industry and even suggested (in reference to the problems the state had with protecting the endangered spotted owl) that Oregonians smoke marijuana and get high for a living, instead of logging and cutting down trees…(nothing more needs to be said after that). As a result the governor banned the marching band from Oregon for 3 years and it would be ten years before the LSJUMB was allowed to perform at Oregon State again. The attitude and presentation of the band has not only antagonized other universities and their fans but many alumni of Stanford University find fault with the band as well, so much so that they won’t even support their alma mater via alumni funds. Indeed, the very reason that the band is so endearing to many, their unique style and disregard for tradition, is the same reason that some alumni and fans consider them a joke and an embarrassment.

Clearly, the Band represents a delicate love/hate relationship amongst Stanford affiliates. Although the school is not united in their sentiments towards the Band's behavior, traditions, and tactics on the field, it can be agreed upon that the Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band plays by their own rules. For better or for worse, the Band is an autonomous power-house on Stanford campus. No doubt the Tree, the Dollies, and the Band itself are the most controversial group to have ever been banned from Oregon.



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This was fun to read! Personally, it made me enjoy the band a little bit more- I hadn't heard of the Oregon ban, and think it's pretty funny that our the Band can care so little and the Governor of Oregon can care so much. I thought it was good to include both sides of the controversy, since obviously the band frequently displays a degree of disrespect (BYU?). The discussion on band run, Dollies, and the Tree were good touches, since they all seem to be integral parts of what makes the Stanford band the Band.

I agree with Chris, I enjoyed reading this piece very much. In a way, I felt like the sarcastic form of the blog was meant to emulate the almost careless behavior of the band. Furthermore, I felt like the visual support complemented each of the topics fairly well--Even though I see the band around campus quite often, reading each paragraph and referring to the pictures made me feel like i was being enlightened on something rather unfamiliar. Overall this was a great post and I feel it captivated a unique aspect of Stanford University: The LSJUMB

This was a really entertaining article to read. I remember seeing the band for the first time and thinking how crazy they were. I couldn't believe the funny story of how they were banned from the state Oregon. I thought the pictures that were posted gave a good feel for band, although i'm sure there could have been much crazier ones to show the band's true colors. I thought the article did a really good job at the showing how controversial the band was. It also did a good job at showing how big of a part the band is to Stanford culture and how much it represents the university in good and bad ways.

I love the way you opened with the two very different viewpoints on the Band. The pictures are great, and the first one provides great shock value. The post took on an informal, insider tone with pauses and ellipses. While we as Stanford students understand the humor and sarcasm, an outsider from another university may be confused and find that this style hurts ethos a bit. The fact that the positive aspects of the Band were presented before the negative ones definitely shaped the reader's views. With a history as rich as the Band's though, I think this post does a great job highlighting the key points and capturing the Band. Even for me, the Band is hard to explain to other friends - I'd probably rather refer them to this post.

This was a very cool subject to write about and a very interesting article to read. What made it so interesting, as some have already stated above, are the bizarre facts about our band. The blog goes into great detail on the pranks that the band has pulled. I particularly liked the Notre Dame one. Overall, everything was well written and well organized. Good job guys.

This was a very cool subject to write about and a very interesting article to read. What made it so interesting, as some have already stated above, are the bizarre facts about our band. The blog goes into great detail on the pranks that the band has pulled. I particularly liked the Notre Dame one. Overall, everything was well written and well organized. Good job guys.

This post offered a great description, and really covered all its bases. Even more impressive was the skill with which the authors transitioned from point to point, and the indirect language used to describe various fixtures of the team (i.e. Pat Forde's line about the tree.) The post could maybe use a couple more pictures towards the bottom, but fortunately the text alone was enough to keep me hooked at that point.