A Yale Daily News article reported yesterday that Director of Bands at Yale Thomas Duffy has suspended the band “from all activities and performances, effective as of this very moment” for its “completely inappropriate and highly offensive” use of props. The prop in question was a makeshift sheet-wall that was supposed to represent the wall dividing Berlin until 1989, with Harvard representing an evil communist regime and Yale the harbor of freedom.
The wall was emblazoned with profanity, which Duffy had not approved. While neither Duffy nor any of the band members were willing to comment on the suspension, Yale students defended the statements that were written on the band’s “wall.”
“I couldn’t read much on the ‘wall,’ but I don’t approve of Duffy’s decision to suspend the YPMB,” said Robert J. Tunney IV, a sophomore at Yale. “Whatever was written on the wall, I’m sure worse was said in the stands.”
“I think that this incident is being blown out of proportion,” Robert B. Williams III, a freshman at Yale, added. “The show was irreverent and mildly inappropriate, but that’s the nature of college rivalries and particularly of the rivalry between Harvard and Yale.”
But Harvard band members said that a “line had been crossed” by their counterpart’s half-time show.
“We as a band are always careful to be funny as well as tasteful,” said Julie A. Duncan ’09, of the Harvard Band. “I’d imagine that if anyone tried to pull what the Yale students did in the Harvard band, we would have said ‘no, no, no.’ Profanity is just one of those things that can’t go on the field.”
Harvard students in the stands tended to side with Yale, not finding the “wall” over-the-top, even though it was hard to see what was written on the sheets from the stands.
“I didn’t even recognize that the wall was strewn with vulgarity,” said Nikita Makarchev ’11. “I think it’s all part of a larger celebratory package, in a sense.”
But to many of the spectators, the “wall” wasn’t the only suspect-looking item to emerge during Yale’s halftime show: there was also the giant “missile” that tore down the “wall.”
“When I initially heard about the suspension, I thought it was as a result of that giant, ugly, penis-like thing that tore down the wall,” said Duncan.