WICHITA, Kansas – The Wichita State University Student Government Association has decided not to continue funding Wichita State University’s Shocker Sound band due to budget cuts.
According to the SGA, almost $320,000 in budget cuts forced the decision to drop its support of the music program.
The 40 to 50 members of the Shocker Sound are not on scholarship, but are paid for each game where they play. If the funding is drastically cut next year, resorting to volunteer band members, some say the atmosphere of the games where the band performs may never be the same.
It’s hard to miss the Shocker Sound at WSU’s basketball games.
“We not only have a lot of outreach in the community, but also a lot of impact of the environment and the atmosphere in Koch Arena with home basketball games,” said lead trumpet player Brandon Anderson.
Anderson realizes the importance of his role and what the program means to the university.
“It would be extremely disappointing to see Shocker Sound either A, go away or B, be grossly under funded,” Anderson said.
However, just 24 hours ago he was told the band will no longer be funded by the WSU Student Government Association, forcing the program to look for other ways to survive.
“If you were to cut the vast majority or the entire budget for Shocker Sound, and it were just on a volunteer basis, you would see a drastic reduction in the level of musicianship,” said Wichita State SGA President Joseph Shepard.
Shepard says the Student Government Association was faced with the tough reality to choose between the music and other campus programs. Due to budget cuts, SGA was not able to continue its financial support of Shocker Sound.
“We were told that that $61,000 would not even allow them to sustain as a band, and they would be put in a situation where they would have to either cut members of the band or reduce the amount of games that they played at, and we did not want to do that to them,” Shepard said. “We know that this band is a vital asset.”
This week, Shepard met with WSU President John Bardo to ask if the athletic department could step in and fund Shocker Sound. Bardo released a statement Thursday saying he accepts the funding recommendations and he, “plans to ask the Kansas Board of Regents to include Shocker Sound funding as a very small addition to student athletic fees.”
So, what happens next?
Officials tell KSN President Bardo should have an answer from the Kansas Board of Regents within the next two weeks about the funding prospects.
Shepard says if student athletic fees are increased it would only be about a ten-cent per-credit-hour hike.