Lt. Gen. John Rosa, president of The Citadel, issued a statement regarding the incident, in which he acknowledged that “a brief but heated exchange” occurred between cadets and the Princeton band prior to the halftime show, during which he said cadets booed the band’s performance.
“We will use this episode as a learning experience to reinforce with cadets that they are representatives of The Citadel, and that their behavior redounds to the reputation of the college,” he said in the statement.
Though Citadel officials refused to comment further on the incident, Citadel cadets contacted by The Daily Princetonian did offer their views on Saturday’s conflict. Some were conciliatory, but others were clearly angered.
After the band entered The Citadel campus for a pre-approved march around campus, Citadel cadets, who were outside for recreational activities, formed a chain to block its path, PUB president Alex Barnard ’09 said in an interview Monday night on student-run radio station WPRB.
The band broke formation to avoid the blockade and was involved in a physical confrontation with cadets, he said, adding that commanding officers were able to end the confrontation and escorted the band on the rest of its march.
Later in the day, PUB members were insulted and booed during their halftime show and were later surrounded by cadets while seated in the stands, Barnard added.
Though not directly involved in the scuffle that followed, Cadet Capt. Austin Young said in an e-mail he knows that one band member had his clarinet broken by a cadet and confirmed that the confrontation did become “physical.”
“It is quite embarrassing to know that a cadet did such a disrespectful act and by doing that they were taking the matter way too far,” he said. “It would have been a whole different story if we would have just taunted and booed them, but to get physical and do damage to someone’s property is crossing the line.”
Other cadets, however, were less apologetic.
“Send us the bill for the clarinet, tuck your tail as you leave our beautiful Charleston, and shut your quibbling mouth as you get re-accustomed to North Jersey,” Cadet Major Julius Siler, who attended only the halftime show, said in an e-mail.
Young noted that some cadets may have confronted the band because they did not expect the Princeton contingent to march onto The Citadel’s campus, adding that The Citadel cadets take pride in being “rowdy and harsh” with visiting schools.
Cadet John Bethmann said in an e-mail that the cadets were acting in self-defense. “When they started running around OUR parade deck and on the stairs of OUR church, they pushed the envelope too far,” he said.
Cadet Capt. Matthew Rohlman, on the other hand, said in an e-mail that he expected a “reasonable, spirited, school-spirit bashing” between cadets and band members, but that the incident before the halftime show got out of hand.
Other cadets, however, said they thought the halftime performance was also offensive. Young said that the halftime show included band members “humping each other [and] running around like a bunch of idiots.” He called the show “offensive and very disrespectful to our institution.”
Rohlman said that some also found the halftime show objectionable because “it’s quite possible that this formation they made was quite possibly a penis.”
“My friend told me that the people that kept running out of the top of it was supposed to represent the penis ejaculating,” he explained.
Barnard denied the allegation.
“We were forming an ice pick. It’s quite obviously not a penis,” he said, adding that the band altered the formation specifically for the show at the Citadel to make it clear that the formation did not represent a penis.
“We very clearly announced that … it was an ice pick,” he said. “If the cadets hadn’t been booing, they would have heard that.”
Bethmann said that he thought the band’s “humping and beating up a fake Santa Claus [during the halftime show] with kids in the stadium was completely unnecessary and vulgar.”
Barnard explained that the Santa Claus ornament was one of the band’s instruments, and the act included hitting the ornament.
He acknowledged that “some members made the poor decision to basically grind or hump or whatever you want to say on the field,” adding that specific members of the band will apologize for their actions in an open letter to The Citadel.
— Staff writers Lauren Christensen, Marissa Lee, Chetan Narain and Ilya Sabnani contributed reporting to this story.