OSU band director fired over "sexual culture" within the band - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

OSU band director fired over "sexual culture" within marching band

The Ohio State University (Source: MGN) The Ohio State University (Source: MGN)
COLUMBUS, OH (WOIO) -

Jon Waters, the Ohio State University band director, has been fired over what it called a "sexual culture" being implemented in the group.

The two-month long investigation started after a parent complained that students were routinely harassed and were sworn to secrecy about the band's sexualized traditions and customs.

According to a statement via the university's website, a thorough investigation by the Office of University Compliance revealed serious cultural issues and an environment conducive to sexual harassment within the marching band.

In addition, the investigation determined that Waters was aware of or reasonably should have known about this culture, but failed to eliminate it, prevent its recurrence, or address its effects.

The investigation discovered incidents of a "Midnight Ramp," which is a longstanding tradition involving band members wearing only their underwear marching into the football stadium.  

Sexually explicit nicknames were given to rookie band members, which Waters was well aware of and used to address at least one band member.

The sexual culture also included "tricks," which were assigned to and performed by new band members.

"Nothing is more important than the safety of our students," said OSU President Michael Drake. "We expect every member of our community to live up to a common standard of decency and mutual respect and to adhere to university policies."

He added, "An environment conducive to sexual harassment within the band creating a hostile environment for students. I am profoundly disappointed to learn this."

Evidence of more bad behavior from the former leader was disclosed in a report a day after the firing.

From a secret audio recording between Waters and a band member:

"If you ever do that again after we give you a direct God *expletive* order, then you're done. Do you understand?"

The student was pulled into Waters' office with an associate director after a disagreement during practice last year.

"You *expletive* better realize who you're dealing with. We told you to do something on the field and you outright disrespected him and me. Now this will not stand. We tell you to stand on your head and as drum major, you'll stand on your god *expletive* head if you want to be drum major. Do you understand?"

According to the report, Waters initially denied ever cursing or screaming at students. Later, he admitted to sometimes swearing in front of them, but never directly at them.

"There's the band on the field and then there's kind of, like, the band off the field," said the former band member.

Now, a band nationally known for its innovative routines is shoved under the microscope for a sexual culture that has silenced its leader.

Waters led the band for nearly two years. He plans on fighting to get his job back.

The band season will continue under new leadership. The university is looking to identify an interim band director in the meantime.

Copyright 2014 WOIO. All rights reserved.

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