ECU student leaders criticize university response to band protest

The contract ECU band members must now sign.
The contract ECU band members must now sign.

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Student leaders said they went looking for answers and came out empty-handed after meeting with ECU administration officials to discuss the university’s reaction to 20 band members who knelt during the national anthem Saturday.

One student government association member said this week’s events do not resemble the Pirate Nation he knows and loves.

“It’s shocking that 20 students who chose to take a knee can stem this much outrage,” said Aaron Heft, an SGA member.

ECU band members are now being required to sign a new contract saying they will abide by band rules during future games.

As far an official university response, the chancellor sent out a statement in support of the band, while a separate statement from a number of ECU departments said protests would not be tolerated. These mixed statements have led to confusion among students.

“It seems that with all these different statements coming out from all these different angles, that we aren’t unified at the university level,” said Heft.

ECU professor Tracy Tuten’s decision to bring her gun to campus in protest, and then her abrupt reversal of that decision, has added to student concerns.

“If this teacher can say she’s going to bring a firearm on campus, what’s going to happen tomorrow?” said Heft.

Heft said that he went with a group of students to take their concerns to the administration, but got nowhere.

“The majority of the questions that we asked weren’t met with answers; just, ‘Thank you for asking these important questions,’” Heft said.

Heft said he and his fellow classmates want some clarity.

“We aren’t unified at the university level,” Heft said. “It seems sloppy, and it’s just unprofessional.”

ECU chancellor Cecil Staton again did not reply to requests for comment.

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