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Like any other kid in West Virginia, I was raised on WVU football and basketball games. Although I’m not a sports fan, it’s always interesting to see how everyone prepares for game days.
As a freshman, to say my first year of college has been disappointing is an understatement. However, not all of it is the University’s fault; coronavirus has taken a lot from all of us. For the first football game open to viewers, I was lucky enough to receive a ticket to watch the game in person, making this year just a little bit better.
Looking out on Mountaineer Field to see our and Kansas’ football teams, it felt weird having the stadium so empty and the usual pre-game traditions not happening around me.
Even more strange was the marching band not in its usual attire and presence at the game. The usual 300-plus-person band was cut down to one-third, looking more like a high school pep band than a college marching band.
What seems to always be a running theme is that football brings the University the most money, and because of that, other organizations on campus aren’t seen with the same importance. This means that groups like band and cheer go unnoticed, as if they aren’t part of game day like the football team.
Many band members are preparing for a career field involving the arts, whether that be teaching or performance. Not only is this depriving them of participating in a campus-oriented organization, it’s depriving them of their educational needs.
For many music education students, marching band not only fills a small group requirement, but provides an opportunity to improve their leadership skills and work with a section. With marching band primarily being a fall season activity, upperclassmen can find this year as a limited experience before they venture out into the “real world.”
If the entire football team is allowed to play against students from different states, it should at least be considered that students from the same university be allowed to play together in a stadium that typically holds 60,000 people.
“They reserved all this space for fans but couldn’t provide the space for us to be there,” said Sean O’Callaghan, a junior music education student.
Prior to the Baylor game, students quickly spread the news that The Pride of West Virginia would be in attendance. In reality, band members were notified a short one hour before their call time that they wouldn’t be allowed to go.
With COVID-19, it’s been an important process to test student-athletes on a weekly basis, but the band, which doesn't get the rapid results like student-athletes were granted, was left with inconclusive results and a few positive cases.
Since the Baylor game, the band has been getting tested before expected home games, but without the rapid results, it raises the possibility of contracting the coronavirus between getting tested and receiving the results.
How does the University cherry pick which groups get to continue their activities per usual and which groups are required to condense, mask up and sit out on events?
“It’s not really right for us to not be able to be a full group and [football players] to,” said Emily Carroll, a senior engineering student.
Like many aspects of this year, miscommunication, or lack thereof, has harmed students and put them in a place where they feel like they aren’t being heard. It’s not much to ask for honesty and transparency from an academic institution.