Local News Toledo

 

Ohio State Fires Band Director

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WSPD) -- Ohio State University has fired band director Jon Waters after a 2 month investigation into complaints about a "sexualized culture." The complaint came from a parent of one of the band members.

The report, released on Thursday, finds a culture that "facilitated acts of sexual harassment, creating a hostile environment for students."

It also found that Waters knew about the situation and failed to address it.

The university announced the firing by posting a YouTube video of President Michael Drake on its website addressing the situation.

One of the allegations was that band members were required to march across the field at Ohio Stadium wearing only their underwear, a tradition known as "Midnight Ramp." Witnesses told investigators this was supervised by Waters and other band leaders. One of the female witnesses said female members would often go to Victoria's Secret to shop ahead of the event.

Assistant Band Director Michael Smith told investigators the tradition was not required and that he knew of at least one female member who didn't participate. He also said many members wore pajamas or shorts instead of only underwear.

New band members were also given nicknames, some sexual, by upperclassmen, according to the report. They were also forced to do "tricks," most of which were sexual in nature. There were also "physical challenges."

A songbook was also found that included misogynistic and alternate sexual lyrics to Ohio State and numerous other collegiate songs, which were sung on bus trips. However,former band members say that's nothing new and dates back several decades.

One witness stated that Waters texted dirty limericks to students. Waters acknowledged having cell phone numbers for squad leaders but denied ever texting dirty limericks. 

The report found that band members were told to swear a secret oath that concealed objectionable traditions and customs.

Another witness described her first year in the Marching Band as “culture shock” and cited alcohol consumption at away football games as an example.

Waters is also accused of verbally abusing students. Two situations in which Waters yelled and cursed at students were corroborated by a recording and by multiple witnesses. 

At first Waters denied the allegations, but later said that he does sometimes raise his voice and curse in front of students, but never at them.

Former Attorney General Betty Montgomery will head a second investigation to see if the initial report missed anything.

Waters, 38, was a member of the band himself from 1995 to 1999. He graduated in 2000. He took the director's position after John Woods retired following the 2011 - 2012 school year ending a 25 year career with OSU.

 

More Articles