The McMaster marching band has faced several challenges this year. The most significant of these is the fact that band just received their yearly funding on Nov. 24, three months after it should have been given to the club.
Meanwhile, the group has been collecting interest on a set of drums, purchased with the intention of paying them off with the 2014-2015 funding allocation.
These funds are collected from undergraduate students as part of their supplementary tuition fees. The University collects 90 cents per student which funds equipment upgrades, travel expenses, and other costs of the McMaster marching band.
At the Student Representative Assembly meeting on Nov. 15, Miranda Clayton, President of the McMaster Marching Band, spoke out about this issue. Until Nov. 24, the band was given no indication when they would receive their funding. That day, they received an email from the university telling the group they could come pick up their funding.
The confusion has resulted because of the dual status of the marching band – they collect a yearly fee from each student, classifying them as a non-university, non-MSU fee-collecting levy group. At the same time, they are an MSU club.
“Because we have this dual status, when I went to go talk to the university about the fact that we did not get our funding, they said talk to the MSU,” said Clayton. “When I talked to the MSU about the fact that we did not get our funding, they said talk to the university.”
This is not the first year that the funding for the marching band has been delayed. Clayton encountered the same problem last year and says that she was promised that this would never happen again.
Scott Mallon, MSU VP (Finance), along with the MSU finance committee is now working with the university to sort out this issue.
“It’s my understanding that the MSU gets their fee from the university and then we pass it on to the marching band,” said Mallon. “We just got our [allotment] at the beginning of November, our fees back from university, so we are in the process of setting everything up.”
“I’m sure that the funding will get resolved, but we are angry that it has taken this long,” said Clayton.
Funding isn’t the only issue that the Marching Band has encountered. The group, which has close to 70 members, does not have an on-campus practice space.
“We will have to pay $800 every two months for practice space [off-campus],” said Clayton.
This year, the McMaster Marching Band is playing at five Santa Clause parades in the greater Toronto area, and is in demand for more. In the past, the marching band has participated in international competitions and even backed Serena Ryder while she played “Stompa” at the ET Canada New Year’s bash.
“We do so many things everywhere but we feel like we’re not welcome at home,” said Clayton. “We love the student body at Mac, and what we want to do is provide a great show for everybody at Mac. But the school itself is making it so hard to do this because we don’t have the practice space.”
Despite this, the Marching Band has made some progress in its relationship with the university. Clayton is currently discussing the marching band’s role at sporting events with Athletics and Recreation, which could result in an increased presence. The marching band may also have a bigger role in Welcome Week in the future.
The university has also donated space in Bates residence for the marching band to store their instruments, which has been a major obstacle for the group in the past.
“[We are only a club], which is a little bit of why we feel like we’ve had some trouble getting more respect from the institution,” said Clayton. “We do feel like we have outgrown clubs, and I have brought it up before that we should be transferred to either a service or something else. Ultimately, we need a better place within the university.”