OIE finds marching band director Dr. Mills told student he would spank her, called comment “humorous”


The UConn Marching Band has its biweekly practice up at W Lot on Thursday, Oct. 12, 2017. (File photo/The Daily Campus)

University of Connecticut Marching Band Director Dr. David Mills told a student he was going to spank her, according to the results of an investigation by the Office of Institutional Equity.

“Dr. Mills could not recall what he said to [redacted], but said that he could have told her that [redacted] he would “spank” her,” the report said. “However, Dr. Mills said that he would have meant this ‘facetiously,’ and that he would’ve intended this comment to be humorous. Dr. Mills denied that this comment would have any sort of sexual connotations, or that he said it to [redacted] because she was a female.”

Ricardo Brown, assistant professor in residence and associate director of athletic bands, confirmed this account in the report.

“Mr. Brown recalled that [redacted] Dr. Mills [redacted] told her, “[redacted] I’m going to spank you,” the report said.

The investigation into Mills lasted from Nov. 16, 2018 to Jan. 25, 2019.

OIE first received information on Nov. 12, 2018, that Mills “made sexually harassing comments toward her and engaged in sex-based harassment and discrimination toward her and other female UCMB members,” the report said.

In addition to the spanking comment, the report details comments Mills made to a female member of UCMB, regarding properly fitting into uniforms.

“Dr. Mills said something along the lines of, ‘can’t you buy Spanx?’ and that they would ‘take [her] off the preseason meal plan,” the report said.

The OIE confirmed this allegation.

Mills “denied the encounter as alleged,” the report said. “OIE concludes that it is more likely than not that Dr. Mills suggested to [redacted] that she go off the preseason meal plan and that they order her Spanx after [redacted].”

The report includes a variety of other allegations from current and former students interviewed by OIE.

“One student alleged that in fall 2018 they directly observed Dr. Mills say that an alumna of the UCMB ‘broke a lot of young boy’s hearts’ when she became married,” the report said. “One student alleged that they indirectly heard that several years prior to OIE’s investigation, Dr. Mills said of a former twirler, ‘If I were young, I would lust after her.’ One student alleged that they indirectly heard that around 2016, Dr. Mills would wink at a former female drum major.”

Mills confirmed the comment in the report about breaking young boy’s hearts, but not “lusting after” or winking at students, the report said. Mills did confess, however, to calling “female students, but not male students, ‘sweetie’ and ‘sweetheart,” the report said.

The possibility of sex discrimination involving various tasks and trips was also investigated by OIE, but the idea was rejected by Mills.

“Dr. Mills was uncertain what the gender or sex breakdown was for students selected to travel, but said that gender or sex was not taken into account at all in the decisions,” the report said.

OIE determined that Mills did not, however, violate any discrimination or harassment policies set forth by UConn’s Policy Against Discrimination, Harassment and Related Interpersonal Violence, which provided the grounds for this investigation.

“After a careful review of the accounts provided by the parties, OIE concludes that the evidence does not support finding that the respondent engaged in sex-based discrimination or harassment, or sexual harassment, in violation of the University’s Policy Against Discrimination,Harassment and Related Interpersonal Violence or any predecessor policy,” the report said.

Mills now remains on paid administrative leave and the issue is being handled now by Mills’ superiors.

“This finding notwithstanding, OIE’s investigation uncovered information that Dr. Mills engaged in conduct which might implicate other University policies not within OIE’s jurisdiction, such as the Code of Conduct. Accordingly, OIE is referring this matter to management, in consultation with Human Resources, for review,” the report said.

Luke Hajdasz is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at luke.hajdasz@uconn.edu.

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