received an email from a reader with a perplexing situation. She asked for my advice, but I know that there are people out there who are much smarter than me... namely you. I told her I would post it and find out what my readers think. So? Pony up and give us your thoughts!

"I used to do color guard in high school and college (guard is the girls in marching band that spin the flags). The college guard I was in was always far more relaxed than my high school one. We didn't try too hard and were non-competitive. It was all about the fun. And this is why so many different people could join the guard--even if you had no prior spinning experience. It was just a place for everyone to be themselves and have fun. We always had lots of girls of different shapes and sizes--ranging from girls over 6 ft tall to girls under 5 ft, girls weighing over 200 pounds to girls weighing under 100. We were just that diverse, because the program allowed for it. So we all didn't even worry about our sizes and just totally supported one another in that aspect.

And now on to the problem... Recently it came to my attention that my old college band director has implemented a "Size restriction" on who can march in the guard. Most of the "bigger" girls have already stopped marching, but there were two that wanted to come back this year and were let go from the guard because of this (each had already marched for three years in the band before)--and keep in mind that in my 6 years of marching, not a single person had ever been cut for any reason. And well, the bottom line is I feel compelled to say something. I'm not an outspoken person in any way really, but I just can't accept this. I would not have been cut when I was marching, but since I've graduated I've gained quite a bit of weight and probably wouldn't make the cut this year. It's unfortunate to think what I might have missed out on had this happened sooner.

I know this is a subject that you touch on quite a bit on your blog, and basically I am just asking for any advice/words of wisdom you can give me--by way of statistics, general things I can say, etc. Or maybe just an idea of where I should go with this."

Thoughts? Suggestions?  Words of wisdom?


  1. My first thought is that this is illegal. It's for school, and being as it is college, it's for a school that these students have paid dearly to attend.

    It's just sad because the size of your body does not determine how high, fast, or accurately you are able to spin your flag, rifle, or sabre.

    Seriously, this band director is showing his ignorance because he probably doesn't want to take into consideration costuming a larger person. And, with that being said, I bet he's not regulating the weight of someone carrying an instrument.

    Honestly, does he think he'll win competitions by having an all-skinny guard? That's not what the judges are looking at & he should know better.

    I'd say something, take it up the chain of command. It's just not right.

  2. I would write an open letter to the band director, his/her superiors and the college admin (address the same letter to all of them so they all know who has received it). A letter is good because it's less intimidating/aggressive than approaching the band director in person and it also brings the issue to the attention of the school. They may not know that she or he has implemented the restriction. Describe your involvement in the colour guard and what that time meant to you. I would avoid being really accusatory, so instead of saying "name of band director has implemented...." say "a restriction of size has been implemented....". This way the band director can't get super defensive and it has less of a chance of blowing up into a row. I say this as someone who worked in Uni admin for a few years; I worked in Canada so it might be different than the States but people definitely caught more flies with honey. And if nothing comes of your letter send a copy to the campus news paper etc.

    All that being said, if you are comfortable approaching the band director in person do it - but it is good to have a written record of these things. Maybe do both?

    Good luck!

  3. I agree with the above comments as well, but I'd also recommend getting support for people who are currently in the guard right now seeing as you've graduated. Also, if the school sees that a lot of people have been offended by this (as opposed to just one) it may hold more weight. Good luck! It's good to see people standing up to ridiculous policies, let us know what happens.

  4. I agree with the comments, too.

    I'm from Germany, and my experience is, that if we have a serious problem with some kind of new programms or regulations, we like to write an open letter to the next newspaper or better the newspaper, which is most popular. You would never guess how much pressure you can but on some organisation, person or something. Maybe this will work. Because most of the people would be shocked about this regulation of the band director.
    And maybe the other members of the band could do some pressure, if they would just stay away from rehearsals, quit temporary, to say "This is NOT how things work, this behaviour is inacceptable".

    I hope everything will turn out right for them!


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