Lack of Funding Causes Cal Band to Miss Away Games

Photo: The University of California Marching Band practices together on Oct. 25. The Cal Band missed their second away game this year last weekend, when the football team played against the University of Arizona.
Chris Chung/Photo
The University of California Marching Band practices together on Oct. 25. The Cal Band missed their second away game this year last weekend, when the football team played against the University of Arizona.

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For the first time in nearly 20 years, the University of California Marching Band has missed away football games, citing elevated transportation costs and a lack of funding.

Due to higher airfare costs and reduced monetary support from the campus, band officials said they were unable to make it to the away games at Washington State University on Sept. 6 and University of Arizona last weekend.

Since he became involved in 1995, this is the first time band director Robert Calonico said he composed a budget that ended up in the red.

"I know it's tough, and everybody is having budget crises as we are having, but we can't do it anymore, and we have subsidized the away trips for many, many years," Calonico said. "The university has to decide if we should be there or we shouldn't."

This year the band received $20,000 from Cal Athletics, $70,000 from the campus and $25,000, which they receive annually from an endowment set up by UC Berkeley alumna Natalie Cohen.

The $70,000 from the campus represents an 8 percent decrease from last year, said Maya Wildgoose, senior manager of the band.

Many universities, such as UCLA, fund larger parts of their marching bands' budgets, enabling them to travel to away football games.

Some said that although the campus is facing a funding crunch itself, it should do as much as possible to continue to fund a student group that represents UC Berkeley.

"The band is a student-run organization," said ASUC Auxiliary Director Nadesan Permaul. "We are a campus whose tradition in this involves independent, student-led activities, but that doesn't preclude the university from contributing it's share."

Cal Band will go to three of the five away football games this season, but members have to pay a quarter of the cost for two of those games out of their own pockets. As a result, many band members cannot go, Wildgoose said.

Historically, Cal Band has made it a mission to support the athletes by going to as many away games as possible despite the financial costs, said Dan Cheatham, Cal Band historian.

"In the era of the 1970s up until the 1990s, there was a sense within the band that, 'Damn it, we're not going to have a broken record, we're going to attend every away football and basketball game even if we have to pile in automobiles, buy our own gas and sleep in our automobiles'," Cheatham said.

But with a tight campus budget and limited pool of money available through the ASUC, funding is not easy to come by.

CalSERVE senator Stephanie Yang said many student groups this year are having financial trouble and the senate has seen a spike in the number of groups requesting money from the ASUC's contingency fund-money set aside for allocation by the senate throughout the year.

"Funding this year is pretty bad, a lot of different programs are being affected," Yang said. "It's pretty hard to allocate money for everyone and it's really unfortunate because many great programs are being cut."


Contact Carol Yur at [email protected]

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