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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

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Pep Band receives funding again

Pep band performs at a men ‘s basketball game PHOTO: KELLY SHANNON ’24/THE HAWK

For the first time since 2019, members of the St. Joe’s Hawk Band have the option to be paid for their work.

In a Nov. 11, 2022 email from band director Ben Hemsley, members were informed they’d have the opportunity to sign a contract for $750 per semester.

“Ben, the band director, had kind of hinted at it when we had our first original meeting [in August],” said band member Ryan Salyer ’23, who has been playing the tenor saxophone for the band since his third year.

St. Joe’s Athletics did not make Hemsley available for an interview after multiple requests to speak with him.

According to drummer Jason Greenwood ’23, the letters said that to qualify for the scholarship, members must maintain a good academic standing, a positive attitude, good sportsmanship and maintain their standing as a band member by attending specific game dates. 

If the members met qualifications for the scholarship, they could sign contracts for each semester.

A March 30, 2022, article from The Hawk reported that in 2019, the SJU Athletics Department told then directors Tim and Sue Laushey that the athletic department could no longer financially support the program. 

At the time, band members were being paid $40 per game, according to Greenwood, who has been with the band since his first year at St. Joe’s.

The Lausheys retired in 2020, and Hemsley was hired in September 2021. 

The lack of pay and strict covid-19 restrictions that would follow in 2020 and 2021 deterred members, said Greenwood, who sometimes would be the only band member to show up for games.

“Once covid protocols happened, there was no band, a lot of budget cuts, which obviously took away the pay,” Greenwood said.

Band members said Hemsley was a big advocate for getting them paid again. 

“Not only will it put money into students’ pockets, but a lot more students are getting involved within the Hawk Band,” Greenwood said. 

Flute player Alexa Hidalgo ’23, came to St. Joe’s from University of the Sciences, where band members were not paid and, like at St. Joe’s, attendance dropped during covid. 

“The pep band got cut short because of covid-19, so everything went online,” said Hidalgo. “We didn’t have much of a pep band.” 

Even after covid restrictions were lifted, the band didn’t exist anymore, Hidalgo said.

According to Hidalgo, the pay is a plus, but the music is what drives her to be involved.

“I wasn’t too interested in the pay that much just because I have been playing music since I was in fourth grade,” Hidalgo said.

But if paying students is a way to grow the band, Hidalgo said she thinks it will be effective.

“Obviously it helps out with paying off tuition, but I think it’s a good incentive for students to join the pep band as well,” said Hidalgo. “I think it’s really fun and encouraging.”

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