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No Irish parade: N.C. State band trip is canceled

RALEIGH (AP) ó North Carolina State University marching band members won’t be going to Ireland next year because of university budget issues and a flap over a job for a former governor’s wife.
Band director Paul Garcia told students in an e-mail that taking the trip would be “irresponsible” and that concern about the school’s reputation led to the decision, The News & Observer of Raleigh reported Friday.
Band members and the university chorus had planned to travel to Dublin to march in the city’s 2010 St. Patrick’s Day parade. Students were to have paid their own expenses.
N.C. State is coping with state budget cuts as well as a controversy over former officials’ decisions to hire former first lady Mary Easley. The university’s chancellor, provost and chairman of its board of trustees have stepped down and Easley was fired from her NCSU job after details became public about her hiring ó and an 80 percent salary increase.
“Due to the economic climate of our state, and the unfortunate recent issue with our former chancellor, provost, board of governor chair, and Mary Easley, we will not be allowed to travel to Ireland this upcoming year,” Garcia wrote to the band students.
“I know that we were not planning on using ANY state funds, and this point was made very clear. Please understand that the people of North Carolina believe that ALL funds for every university group is state appropriated. As a result, the perception of a large trip taken at this time would be a negative rather than a positive.”
Garcia later backed away from the Easley factor during an interview.
“It really didn’t have anything to do with it,” Garcia said. “I just wanted to explain to our students what the climate on campus was like, since many of them are on summer vacation.”
Band members had been planning the five-day trip since March. Each of the 150 members had been told they would have to pay $1,900 for airfare, lodging and meals.
Junior Grayson Halstead expressed disappointment.
“They yanked the carpet out from underneath us.”
“It was going to be the highlight of my marching band experience in college and probably college in general,” Halstead said. “You’ll never get another opportunity to go to another country with your best friends and go march in one of the biggest parades in the world.”
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Information from: The News & Observer, http://www.newsobserver.com

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