Below is the letter I wrote to Dr. Ryan Lombardi regarding his decision to ask the Marching 110 to “reconsider” their choice to include “Blurred Lines” in their halftime show last Saturday.
I want to preface this by saying that it is intentionally as positive and flattering as possible. I did not want to be the guy who says “DR. SUK ROCKS AND YOU SUCK.” Frankly, nothing can be achieved by acting like that. All I wanted was to express my concerns in a civilized and adult manner, and try to encourage POSITIVE debate.
I also chose not to discuss my personal interpretations of “Blurred Lines,” because I do not believe it’s relevant. I will go on record as saying that I don’t believe playing a song about any subject constitutes endorsement of any behavior. The Marching 110 wants people to do a few things: Come to sporting events, cheer on the Bobcats, enjoy the show, maybe dance or sing along, and basically just have fun. Playing “Light Up” every day doesn’t mean they want everybody to go get high. Therefore I will firmly state that playing “Blurred Lines” doesn’t mean they support any sort of “rape culture” that some believe the song suggests.
I do feel this is an excellent opportunity to foster discussion on important topics such as the way pop culture portrays sex and certainly the censorship of student organizations at my alma mater. I am beyond disappointed that the Marching 110 was censored, and even more disappointed that Ohio University officials felt the need to undermine the good judgement of an excellent educator. Dr. Suk has my respect, and I stand by his decisions and song selections. I also understand that Dr. Lombardi has a tough job and is unable to please everybody.
I am looking forward to continued conversation and debate about this. Let’s keep it as civil as possible, so that we can move forward and affect positive change.
My name is Danielle Capriato, and I am a 2008 graduate of the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism and former member of the Marching 110. I am writing in regard to the performance of the song “Blurred Lines” by the Marching 110.
I am sure I am not the first, nor will I be the last, current or former Marching 110 member to write to you regarding your role in determining the band’s song selection for their performance last weekend. The decision to change the performance of “Blurred Lines” has been controversial in the university and alumni communities, and for good reason.
First I would like to say that I understand the role the Marching 110 plays at Ohio University. The band is probably the biggest and best ambassador the university has, and what they do should be taken into careful consideration. Representing Ohio University is an important task, and it is one I believe Dr. Richard Suk and the Marching 110 have always held with highest regard.
The interpretation of the lyrics in “Blurred Lines” has brought up many issues about the way our culture portrays sex. These are incredibly important conversations to have, especially at a college among young adults who are most likely to be directly affected by the issues at hand. I support the university’s decision to encourage these conversations and allow members of the student body to express their opinions and foster debate. What concerns me is the way Dr. Suk’s judgment as director was seemingly questioned.
Dr. Suk is an amazing educator. He teaches his students to be “better than the best ever” every year, a motto that encourages hard work and dedication, and has members of the band striving for success every day. His relationships with his students and attitude in the group have fostered a true spirit of loyalty, friendship and even family. I challenge you to find another group on campus that has such an incredible relationship with their instructor and such determined loyalty to what they do and the university they represent.
I am disappointed that this fantastic educator who is tasked with molding the members of the Marching 110 into such fine representatives of Ohio University has had his judgment questioned so as to force his hand in changing a rehearsed performance on such short notice. It is sad to think that you have honored him with the responsibility of leading the Marching 110, but still found it necessary to override his leadership.
In his years as director of the Marching 110, Dr. Suk has done nothing but foster a spirit of excellence and strive to teach the students in the band how to best embody the true spirit of Ohio University. He expects nothing but the best from his students on and off the field. I find it hard to believe that he would ever approve a song selection he thought would be inappropriate or would be directly insulting to any person or group of people. Considering all he has done to turn the Marching 110 into a class-act, I fully stand behind his decisions with regard to running the band and the songs he selects for them to perform.
I am a very proud alumna of Ohio University. My loyalty to Ohio runs deep, but so does my loyalty to the Marching 110 and to Dr. Suk. I’m sure you will find many other Marching 110 alumni who feel as deeply loyal as I, who will also agree with my disappointment.
I respect the work that you do, Dr. Lombardi, and I understand that it is impossible to please everyone in a situation such as this. I cannot find fault with your decision to address students’ concerns with Dr. Suk. It shows that you are involved and concerned with the happiness of members of the student body, which is something I can appreciate. I am proud to see that university leadership is willing to listen to students and take action as they see fit to address their concerns. However, this does not stop me from feeling obligated to share my own disappointment in the resolution that was reached.
I have concerns about the potential precedent this sets for the censorship of student organizations. I hope that as similar situations arise in the future that the university administration continues to seek resolutions that do not infringe upon the creativity and expression of students while also respecting the concerns of the community. As a journalism student, I spent a good amount of time studying topics in ethics, including censorship, and I understand that these cases are certainly not cut-and-dry. Ohio University is an outstanding institution of higher learning, and I believe the bright minds that choose to study there can only continue to grow when able to participate in discussions of this nature.
I’d like to conclude by saying that I appreciate the support the university consistently gives the Marching 110 and Dr. Suk. I also appreciate the careful consideration given to protecting the reputation of the Marching 110 and Ohio University. I respect the factors that were considered when discussing the performance of “Blurred Lines.” I simply want to offer my support of Dr. Suk as a leader and express full confidence in his judgment–a confidence I believe the entire Ohio University community has every reason to share.
I am also sharing this letter with Dr. Suk, whom I gladly count among the friends I made in my four years at Ohio University, so that he is aware of my continuing support for his excellent work and my admiration of him as an educator. I look forward to returning this year for Homecoming, to spend time on the campus I love, in the community that shaped me into the person I am today, and with hundreds of my friends and family in the Marching 110.
Kind regards (And Go Bobcats!),