This week, Ohio State band alumni shared their experiences under former band director Jon Waters, while Waters’ attorney sent a letter to the university demanding a “Public Name-Clearing Hearing.”
OSU has issued the following response:
We will not be revisiting this decision. It is closed, and it is time to move on. Jonathan Waters was not forthcoming or truthful with University personnel on multiple occasions. The former squad leaders in their release yesterday corroborate this dishonesty. The culture created by these and other issues detailed in the university investigative report necessitated a change in leadership of the Marching Band.
We are sensitive to how some current and former band members feel about the leadership change, and we understand that some are now stating that their experience with the band is at odds with what is reflected in the investigative report. We are encouraged by and appreciate hearing about positive experiences; however, the report’s basic conclusions about the specific complaints and the culture are not refuted by anyone:
- Sexual nicknames, which Waters acknowledged were given to approximately fifty percent of Band members, and were “offensive” and improper, have not been denied;
- Tricks, sexually explicit and connected with nicknames, have not been denied;
- Rookie Introductions with sexual content have not been denied;
- Rookie Midterms and Physical Challenges with sexual content have not been denied;
- Trip Tic, a newsletter with sexual content has not been denied;
- The Songbook, with 124 different songs full of grotesque lyrics, has not been denied, and is included as Exhibit B to the report. Waters and his assistant director acknowledged that students were still singing such songs in September 2013;
- Other Bus Misconduct, including “flying 69s” and excessive sexual language in September 2013, has not been denied;
- Changing Clothes on Buses, has not been denied;
- Alcohol abuse has not been denied;
- Verbal abuse and intimidation has not been denied.
In fact, the statement released yesterday by 2012 and 2013 squad leaders further corroborates and confirms the objectionable traditions and practices detailed in the investigative report. Their statement also highlights additional dishonesty by Jonathan Waters:
- For instance, the squad leaders discuss the Songbook being used in 2012 and 2013 and state that Waters found a copy during a 2012 bus trip. When interviewed by investigators, however, Waters denied ever seeing the Songbook as a staff member of the Band and said that he had only seen it when he was a student. Waters stated that he “would be shocked” if the Songbook was still circulated.
- Furthermore, the squad leaders describe meeting with Waters about poor behavior on buses, including flying 69s, after the Cal game trip in September 2013. Yet during the investigation, Waters denied this behavior on that trip, and in his statement on the Band’s culture provided to university leadership wrote: “No questionable behavior was reported, and as a result, no disciplinary action for inappropriate bus behavior was taken in 2013.”
The investigation determined that the former director was aware or reasonably should have known about this culture but failed to eliminate it, prevent its recurrence and address its effects.
Our focus and our actions have been and will continue to be about our students and the imperative to ensure that every single person on our campus is able to learn, grow and experience Ohio State in a safe and positive environment. The university remains in full support of the band and is committed to making sure that the right structure and resources are in place for any student who feels threatened or harassed in any way. We are moving forward.