Building Community through Shared History - A KU Memorial Union Program

Better Late Than Never

The all-male tradition of the Kansas University Marching Band was to come to an end this fall when the 100-plus member organization would add women to the ranks. Ability would be the only requirement for the selection of band members this coming fall, and KU was planning to spread the word that women were very welcome to audition. The band had been all-male since its inception, except for a brief period during World War II "when there was a problem of fielding enough men," according to Dean Thomas Gorton of the School of Fine Arts. Gorton added that he had always felt that "an all-male band marches better, plays better -- that men can make a better sound. Most leading university bands are all male; it's mostly high schools and smaller colleges that have been co-educational." Bob Foster, director of KU bands, sounded more optimistic about the change, saying it would "allow people who want to be in activities to be in them based on their abilities, as it should be." He added that there would be "changes in our standards -- they will go up.... We will look better and sound better than any band in KU history." Student Senate had cut off funding to the band due to the lack of female participation, and the organization had been financially supported by the Athletic Department since that time. Now, KU Chancellor Laurence Chalmers was trying to resolve the financial shortage, as extra funds would be needed to buy at least 25 new uniforms at a cost of $180 each. Foster explained, "We need to buy new uniforms for the same reason that your wife can't wear your suits."  July 20, 1972 - Lawrence Journal World

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