Ex-Band Member Files Suit Over Hazing -- Michigan State Unit Known As One Of Best

EAST LANSING, Mich. - Jeffrey Greenfield was ecstatic when he arrived at Michigan State University in August 1991.

He'd just passed the most important audition of his life and won a coveted spot in the award-winning MSU Marching Band.

His second day on campus, while returning from lunch with a friend, a group of band members rushed up and pulled his friend's shorts down to his ankles. Greenfield was shocked.

Greenfield, 20, of Bloomfield Township, Mich., has filed suit against MSU, its band director and the drumline instructor, whose contract recently was not renewed. He says "a nightmare" of bizarre initiation and hazing rituals performed by band members forced him to drop from 16 credits to seven last fall, quit the band and seek therapy.

Advised of the lawsuit, filed Friday, university officials declined comment.

A Detroit News investigation confirmed much of the behavior alleged by Greenfield.

Band veterans reportedly exposed their genitals in public and goaded newcomers to do the same, and gave themselves and the freshmen lewd nicknames. The nicknames of band members were recorded on MSU forms and printed in an official band directory at the end of the year.

Band members who made mistakes playing or marching reportedly were disciplined in a ritual involving nudity.

"It was horrible . . . degrading, disgusting and one of the filthiest things I've ever had to endure in life," said Greenfield.

Greenfield wants to be reinstated in the band without penalty and a monitor to ensure such harassment is stopped. He also wants at least $10,000 to pay for legal fees and pain and suffering.

His attorneys, Peggy and Michael Pitt, called the band's behavior a "Tailhook-in-training situation," referring to the Navy sex scandal.

MSU has very strict hazing and sexual-harassment codes, and school authorities say widespread hazing does not exist in the band nor elsewhere on campus. But band officials admit that, after Greenfield complained, they found evidence of "distasteful, deviant and sophomoric" behavior in the past two years.

Although not generally known off campus, the MSU band is a class ranking among the school's toughest courses. It is open only to those who pass rigorous auditions. The band is considered one of the nation's best.

Greenfield said he attended his inaugural nicknaming party the first week of drum camp in the fall of 1991 - on the roof of Demonstration Hall on campus.

On the roof, members of the drum line sat in a circle and drank beer. One by one, he said, the freshmen were asked to stand, introduce themselves and "perform" for the group.

"The main theme of everything was masturbation," Greenfield said.

The drummers received nicknames that reflected their performance, Greenfield said.

After Greenfield complained about the nicknames being printed in the band's directory, James Forger, director of the School of Music, acknowledged some of the nicknames were "downright offensive" and ordered the band to stop using them.

LeeAnne Martin, a former tenor sax player, now a medical student at the University of Michigan, said freshmen were never required to do anything they didn't want to do.

"If they said no, we might egg them on," she said. "But if they really objected, we would just go on to the next person. . . . It was all just fun."