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Tuesday, March 28, 2023 — Houston, TX

MOB presents SA resolution targeting Pep Band

Katherine Hui / Thresher

By Maria Morkas     2/28/23 11:28pm

A student resolution to restore Rice University’s Marching Owl Band as Rice athletics’ official basketball band was presented at the Feb. 20 Student Association senate meeting. The resolution also calls for the compensation of MOB members and the establishment of a student-led task force to accomplish these initiatives.

Rijuta Vallishayee, the drum major for the MOB, and Ryan Mbaushu-Ndip, the drum minor for the MOB, said they wrote this resolution to raise awareness about the implications of the presence of the pep band’s presence for the MOB during the fall and spring semesters. 

“We also advocate for more transparency from Rice Athletics going into the future regarding all athletics-adjacent organizations, including The MOB, Rice Cheer and Rice Dance,” Vallishayee said.

Deputy athletic director Rick Mello said athletics’ focus is to continue to build on the progress that the pep band has made and evaluate once the season is done.

“We recently met with MOB and student government leadership and indicated that we will engage our student body and campus in gathering feedback,” Mello said. “We will also include members of the Rice Community including fans and stakeholders in the process.”

Mbaushu-Ndip said the MOB staff has been the primary source of opposition to the pep band. 

“We have found that our many appeals to the athletics department have been ignored,” Mbaushu-Ndip said.

Vallishayee said that the MOB has played at Rice’s athletic events without compensation for a century. 

“Rice Athletics decided to replace The MOB at indoor sports events with a paid pep band whose restricted instrumentation would prevent many of our members from playing at indoor sports events and erase our tradition of student leadership at these events,” Vallishayee, a junior at Martel College, wrote in an email to the Thresher. “Though representatives of Rice Athletics and the new director of the pep band met with the MOB in the fall to convince MOBsters to join the pep band through negotiation, they failed to open up their instrumentation [to accommodate the large variety of instruments that MOBsters play].”

This resolution also establishes the Rice Athletics Fan Experience Task Force, led by a designated member of the MOB. According to Vallishayee, the goal of the task force will be to advocate on behalf of the MOB in the dispute. In an amendment to the resolution on Feb. 27, SA voting members added that the task force will be annually presented for renewal by the end of February until its deemed dissolution.

Vallishayee said that the ideal outcome of this resolution would be Rice Athletics restoring the MOB as the indoor pep band and compensating its members similar to the pep band, which she said would allow more students to participate in the paid opportunity of playing at Rice games.

“In this way, Rice could have more consistent pep band attendance, maintain the long-standing traditions we’ve developed for volleyball and basketball that were lost when we were removed from Tudor Fieldhouse and bring our unique performance energy back to games,” Vallishayee said.

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