Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

The Hilltop


Band members unaware of former director’s employment following misconduct leave

Kelvin Washington, former director of the SHOWTIME marching band, is no longer with the band amid allegations, according to him, but band members haven’t received official confirmation from university.

The SHOWTIME band at the 2022 Homecoming football game against Delaware State University (Chandler Kinsey/The Hilltop)

Over a year after being placed on administrative leave following allegations of verbal abuse and harassment,  Kelvin Washington, the former director of the SHOWTIME marching band, no longer works within the band, he says.

However, students still feel frustrated and confused about his position within the university as they’ve received no formal communication from the College of Fine Arts (COFA) or the university.

Washington is currently listed as a senior project manager in the COFA and the director of bands from 2019 to 2022. Members of the band say Washington is no longer in contact with them. 

When asked about the status of Washington’s employment, the university declined to comment.

“As the University does not offer public statements on personnel matters of this nature, the Office of University Communications has no comment at this time,” Monica Lewis, the assistant vice president of strategic communications, said.

During the initial investigation in March 2023, the university told The Hilltop that “human resources placed Mr. Washington on paid administrative leave while an investigation of the complaints was underway.”  

The Hilltop also reached out to Washington via a phone call in which he said, “I’m not with them anymore.” Washington declined further comment. 

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

On Sept. 19, 2022, the Dean’s Office in the College of Fine Arts received a letter signed by more than 70 marching band members. The letter alleged that Washington engaged in instances of verbal and physical abuse and misconduct with members of the band over many years. 

Associate director Michael Fitzhugh has been leading the band in Washington’s absence. Fitzhugh declined to comment on updates regarding his role in the band this year, but in a 2023 interview with The Hilltop said his main responsibilities include being a liaison between students and administration, coordinating performances and ensuring the development of the rehearsal schedule.

Students say the band’s morale has improved with Washington no longer a part of the band.

“I’m satisfied with the fact that he doesn’t have a presence in the band anymore,” Promise Achi, a junior computer engineering major and member of the trumpet section, said. “But he just got a slap on the hand. He still basically works upstairs from where we are.”

Following his leave, the university placed a job opening for the director of bands. According to the posting, the band of directors must provide leadership to the bands, recruit prospective students and prepare performance and rehearsal schedules.

“The university said they’re still looking for someone, so why haven’t they promoted Fitz?” Victor Fabritz Lugo, a junior political science major and trumpet player in the band, said. “Why aren’t they paying him a director salary when he’s doing all the director’s work?”

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

Lugo said the university has not been cooperative with Fitzhugh’s efforts to better the band. 

“The administration has given us zero communication,” he said. “It kind of feels like they don’t care at all.”

However, students also said conditions in the band have improved significantly in Washington’s absence. 

“With our new director, Mr. Fitzhugh, everything is a lot more interactive student-wise,” Achi said. “A lot of the music we play now was created or chosen by the students. Like how Victoria Monet got to see us perform ‘On My Mama’ and she shouted out the student that came up with it out on her story.”

Lugo shared similar feelings, leaning into Fitzhugh’s care for the band members. 

“I want to make it clear that Fitz is doing a good job,” he said. “The moment Washington left, things got so much better. Now we have a band director that checks in with us to see if we’re all okay.”

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

Students also said the band’s ranks have also increased in size under Fitzhugh’s leadership.

 “A lot of people who had quit the band because of Washington came back when he left,” Achi said. “And now we just overall have more people joining the band in general.”

Gena Willis, a senior political science major who was part of the drumline for two years but recently joined the color guard, said the band is an outlet for her.

“Band has always given me an outlet to do what I like doing,” Willis said. “There’s the community aspect, too. Everybody knows everybody, and it’s nice to have a community like that.”

Copy edited by Alana Matthew

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

You May Also Like