Kevin Fischer is a veteran broadcaster, the recipient of over 150 major journalism awards from the Milwaukee Press Club, the Wisconsin Associated Press, the Northwest Broadcast News Association, the Wisconsin Bar Association, and others. He has been seen and heard on Milwaukee TV and radio stations for over three decades. A longtime aide to state Senate Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature, Kevin can be seen offering his views on the news on the public affairs program, "InterCHANGE," on Milwaukee Public Television Channel 10, and heard filling in on Newstalk 1130 WISN. He lives with his wife, Jennifer, and their lovely baby daughter, Kyla Audrey, in Franklin.
I recently responded to a Wisconsin State Journal editorial that suggested UW Band Director Michael Leckrone should be fired if there are any more incidents involving questionable behavior (i.e. hazing) on the part of his musicians.
I wrote, “While it’s true Leckrone is in charge, personal responsibility must come into play. Leckrone cannot serve as babysitter for hundreds of so-called young adults 24/7. His job cannot be put on the line because some boneheads decided to get really stupid. The ones who are stupid should be held responsible and dropped immediately, from the band and possibly from school.”
A UW Band parent e-mailed to say my blog was “spot on.” The parent then wrote the following:
“The recent band turmoil has taken a toll on both of my daughters. It’s apparent that the school’s administration has decided to make much ado about not much….over, and over again….the conspiracy theorist in me believes the intent is to eliminate the band as a creditable course and eliminate Leckrone.
I liken the band experience to my time in the military. Leckrone puts them through hell and breaks down their selfishness until they commit 100% to the band as a whole. There are no individuals and no individual is more important than the band. Because of that shared experience and camaraderie, the band members tend to be very, very tight.
I’m well aware of the downside of that (groups can tend to lose the conscience when shenanigans are afoot), but this group is really not like that. There’s definitely a few individuals that have crossed the line from time to time, but Leckrone deals with them harshly. Mike actually went all the way to the US Court of Appeals to force a member to pay one of his fines (the “F-bomb” is considered “the $200 word). http://badgerherald.com/news/2005/04/25/judge_clears_leckron.php Gauder v. Leckrone, 366 F. Supp. 2d 780 (W.D. Wisc. 2005).
Most of the behavior alleged was boorish, crude and for a lot of “normal” people, offensive. Drinking? Definitely. Excessive drinking? Probably. Underage drinking? Certainly.
But, let’s not forget…these are COLLEGE STUDENTS. Sincerely, the behavior alleged by band members (much of which is unsubstantiated legend) is nowhere near the level of debauchery that occurs every single weekend at most frat houses and athletic team parties.
As the university began the most recent investigation, they asked aggrieved students to come forward and state their grievances. When no one voluntarily went in to talk to the Dean of Students, she sent an email stating words to the effect of: 'because no one is coming forward to talk to us, the band may remain suspended indefinitely.'
The upperclassmen decided to go in on their own and talk to the dean. These 'talks' quickly turned into a witch hunt. Questioning went like this (per my oldest daughter):
'Have you ever _______?'
'Have you ever witnessed anyone else doing ________?'
'Have you ever HEARD of anyone doing _________....if so, who did you hear it from and who did they say did it.'
So, now that all is said and done, what was the outcome? At last count, seven members out of 350 were found to have violated the university code of conduct. All seven received letters of reprimand, which remain in their file…..until graduation….when it is to be removed and destroyed.
The reeking stench of fishy-ness is rampant here. The university tipped off the media to the situation originally.”
In a subsequent e-mail, this parent added:
“Just to illustrate the effect the university’s actions have had on many of the band students, my oldest, called us one night the week the story was in full bloom in the media. She was sobbing. Her comment: ‘I’ve worked so hard for four years…..I always thought being in the band would be such a great thing to put on a resume….now I can’t do that.’
It’s not so much the fact that the university did an ‘investigation’. It’s the way it was handled, the fiasco it created and the way they besmirched the reputation of 350 people when a handful were responsible.
Can you honestly think of any organization, having received an email ‘tip’, that would suspend an entire group and hold a press conference detailing the tip?
You would think the normal response would be: ‘We’ve received an allegation of potential hazing and will investigate. We won’t comment until the investigation is complete.’”
In my view, the university totally botched this entire affair.