Columbia University Marching Band Disbands

After 116 years, the Columbia University Marching Band (CUMB) has voted to disband, Columbia Spectator has announced.

Band leadership told the publication that “The Band has unanimously and enthusiastically decided to dissolve. The Columbia University Marching Band will not continue to exist in any capacity and will no longer serve as a Columbia spirit group.”


CUMB has had a long tradition of disruptive and controversial performances on school campus.

Some controversial acts have included:

  • Getting into a brawl with Harvard’s marching band in 1973.
  • Making phallic-shaped marching formations.
  • Cheering the opposite team at games.
  • Using non-traditional instruments known as ‘miscies’ – these have included toilet seats, empty buckets and “wet floor” caution signs.
  • They played CeeLo Green’s “F**ck You” outside Trump Tower in 2016.

In September 2019, Columbia University banned CUMB from performing at all athletic events. The performance which lead to this ban was CUMB’s “orgo night” tradition, in which the band plays on the night before the Organic Chemistry finals outside of Butler Library.

As a result of this disruption, the school cut the band’s funding by $15,000 for the 2019-2020 academic school year, and demanded they register as a student group to get additional funding (instead of relying on the Athletic Department). Since the band missed the deadline to apply, they were prohibited from performing at future athletic events.

But soon after the ban, CUMB protested and raised their own funds to support performances, and soon after, they were reinstated by Columbia University, albeit with a new code of conduct to abide by.

According to The Columbia Spectator, some current and former band members are remorseful about the group’s past misconduct, and feel it is too much to recover from. These individuals wrote a letter to band leadership to request dissolving the group.

In a statement, band leadership said “The current Band hopes that the Band’s dissolution will provide relief to the present suffering of the Columbia community and time to heal from the decades of harm caused by this organization. We also hope that the CUMB’s disbandment can create a space that allows for the formation of a new spirit group that will provide a safe and inclusive outlet for students to play music at Columbia.”

Featured images c/o Kenneth C. Zirkel

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  1. Robert Sheridan September 17, 2020

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