Home » Opinion » Letters to Editor » Letter to the editor: Jon Waters’ dismissal was warranted, overdue

Letter to the editor: Jon Waters’ dismissal was warranted, overdue

Letter to the editor:

Like the rest of the university, I want an end to this marching band scandal. But I want it without the reinstatement of Jon Waters. As an athletic band member, I, too, was upset at first by his seemingly unwarranted dismissal. But after reading Ohio State’s report, I discovered that his dismissal was, in reality, very warranted — and maybe well overdue. There were three reported instances of sexual assault on female members of the marching and athletic bands. In one case, Waters eventually decided to prohibit the alleged male offender from attending an event — an event where he gave the woman the same punishment but was told by OSU he couldn’t punish her after she reported sexual assault. As a student of the Ohio State University, this is not the type of person I want representing me, or my school, as a Buckeye. So whether the band has a “sexualized culture” is irrelevant to me. Mr. Waters’ decision to inappropriately deal with something so serious as a sexual assault accusation is offensive to my core human values. But in response to that topic, which seems to be gaining the most public interest: clearly the culture was hurtful enough to cause students pain or humiliation in an activity that should be about the satisfaction of the hard work put in day in and day out. I understand the value of tradition, but if these traditions are detrimental to the well-being of even one person, is that really something you want to stand up for? I further understand that Mr. Waters was making some efforts to improve this culture, and I truly appreciate it. I wish he had done more. But this is the beginning of a long journey that the marching band is only just starting. And a captain always goes down with his ship.

I don’t doubt that there were good reasons for Jon Waters’ actions — or lack thereof — but unfortunately when you’re in a position of power and in view of the public eye, you just can’t afford to make such large mistakes. He and his successful contributions will always be ingrained in one era of The Best Damn Band in the Land, but for now, I think it’s time we thank him for what he taught us and move into our next era.

Emily Rees
Athletic Band member who plays trombone
Third-year in religious studies and Russian


  1. “That is fact”. Really? The email is fact. The incident is fact. But this hardly makes midnight ramp “official”, and certainly does not mean attendance was required. I know this because I know for a FACT that it was not official and I know for a FACT it was optional. Waters was contacted because it was band members and on campus. But of course thousands of unofficial events that students put together all happen on campus and of course none of them are official. When we (OSU students) had a gigantic campus-wide snowball fight in 1985 (I think), was that official just because it was on campus and police were contacted?

    Alcohol is a tough issue. While it can be controlled relatively easily during official band duties, the serious alcohol issues happen outside of Waters’ jurisdiction. He can only advise students in this regard. As for Ms. Borks’ role in this, several other witnesses have had their statements taken out of context, so I don’t have complete faith in OSU’s accounting of her testimony either. That fact that she had concerns, which as I understand it were primarily about excessive alcohol (which is not why Waters was fired) does not mean provide any evidence of a hostile environment of sexual harassment.

  2. Mr. Fine–you are splitting red herrings here. You continue to believe that there is some magical line between official and non-official band behavior that is critical to the overall environment of sexually-based hostilities or inappropriateness. The courts have frequently said differently. However, it is still going to be very difficult, should he be called upon to do so, for Mr. Waters to argue that an optional attendance clothing optional event at midnight utilizing instruments, attended solely by band members and within the sacred ‘Shoe (not to mention overseen by Waters and other band personnel) was a de facto non-sanctioned and unofficial activity of the band. If it looks and smells like poo, it’s best not to step in it.

    And apparently you have invested so much in your defense of Waters that you are willing to believe that Ms. Bork was simply misquoted in the Compliance Office report. Really? Despite the fact of her resignation AND the emails discussion the situation?

    And as far as the relationship between alcohol and the hostile environment of sexual harassment, you seem to forget the case of alcohol poisoning at Midnight Ramp several years back when heavy drinking was part and parcel of the activity (making laughable the story that the underwear march was REALLY about dealing with performance anxiety) and that binge drinking was a factor in at least one assault allegation.

  3. You know what galls me? You weren’t there. I was. I am telling you how it was, and you are telling me I am wrong about what midnight ramp was about, whether it was optional, and whether it was official.

    You’re only knowledge of the situation is a report that several witnesses (who were contacted because they were likely to have issues with the band) have stepped forward and said that their testimony was used out of context and misconstrued to draw conclusions that are contrary to the witnesses’ own testimony.

    That’s kind of screwed up.

  4. Athletes are suspended for games when they violate NCAA rules or even just the team’s written or implied code of conduct. DUI’s and failed drug tests are examples, but even Jameis Winston was suspended for a game, not for something illegal, but for standing on a table and yelling something obscene (not during a practice, and not during a game). Is that a free speech violation? Well it didn’t live up to the established standards of the team, and he paid the consequences.

    There are ways to deal with “off-campus” actions that strengthen the on-campus culture… Ones that are reasonable and don’t mean policing every little thing in someone’s life. If someone hosts (or simply attends) a drinking party which includes underage students, it may not be the band director’s role to go call the police, but the band director can certainly strip the member’s squad leader role for not exhibiting smart judgement and leadership by example. Just that act alone would have a great impact.

    Jameis Winston yelled something obscene, and as a representative of the team and the university, he was suspended for a game for his “off the clock” behavior. If he was put in jail, that would be a constitutional violation, but the coaches are within their right to follow through with the suspension for a limited access program that represents the university. Had the coaches taken no action, the university is well within reasonable right for dismissing the coaches for that or a multitude of other reasons.

    It might be difficult to completely dismiss someone from the band for off campus behaviors, but not promoting them to student leadership ranks is an easy consequence to implement, as leadership positions should be the result of positive example both on and off the field. If the behavior continues, suspension, and dismissal are the next step, and are reasonable solutions.

    Saying midnight ramp was unofficial and optional, parties are unofficial and optional, vulgar/harassing midterms are unofficial and optional, vulgar nicknames are unofficial and optional etc. does not mean the director is helpless in his or her ability to control what they and their team establish as acceptable representation of the ensemble and the university.

    When Betty Montgomery’s report comes out, if there are only positive accounts from all the people she interviews, I expect that to pose somewhat of a challenge to the university report. However, how many instances of students that who refused to tryout because of the entrenched culture … or more likely students that were in the group for one or to years and then left claiming negative culture elements, does it take to make the hostile environment claim? While supporters of the band likely say it needs to be a ton, I think it actually would have to be relatively few. Hostile environment is not a majority rules situation.

  5. *(one or *two years)

  6. Mr. Fine–you were where you were, which is hardly present at each and every incident cited in the report. Now, I am guessing that you have never been a female nor experienced harassment or discrimination as such, and perhaps have no realization of how subtly it can operate. Now it looks to me as though–from the accounts of defenders of the practice–Midnight Ramp served as a challenge of sorts, to prove that one had the fortitude to ignore what all around might be thinking and play anyway. At least, this seems a more rational understanding than that it was an optional “help” activity for those who thought themselves a bit too shy to perform in front of crowds. However, as a challenge, an amount of coercion is implied. It is a test, intended to prove one’s self. The same can equally be said about the binge drinking activity. Competitive drinking is intended to prove that one can “hold their liquor,” presumably a mark of either fortitude or maturity. Both of these represent cultural assumptions. And as SeekTU has just ably pointed out, it is possible for those in leadership positions to impact both the activities and the culture of the band(s).

  7. @Out of the Box – the only “tests” one has to pass after having won a position in the Ohio State University Marching Band after the tryout process is 1) music checks and 2) uniform inspections.

    Music checks occur the friday before home football games, and the purpose is to show you can play the shows music completely from memory.

    Uniform inspections occur hours before home football games, and the purpose is to show your uniform is being worn complete, correctly and cleanly.

    Failure to pass either of the above could cause you to lose your position in the show and become an alternate, as well as lose part of a letter grade for the class.

    As for doing other things as a “test”, it is impossible for any of them to be anything more than “social” tests which not only occur outside of OSUMB rehearsals and performances, but also occur outside of nearly every OSU class, as well as every college class across the country.

    While “social” tests can be daunting to college students given everyone wants to “fit i”, there is absolutely no requirement in the Ohio State Marching Band to be social, make friends, or be a part of any other band members life outside of rehearsals and performances. You will not make a better letter grade or worse letter grade based on your social skills or lack thereof.

    Many people at Ohio State do binge drink, and you are right that many do it as a “test” to show their friends they can “hold their liquor” to the peers they are trying to impress or befriend. This is not a band culture issue. Nor is it even an Ohio State culture issue. It’s a college culture issue.

    I disagree with your assessment that midnight ramp is a “test”, but let’s just go with the assumption that your assessment is correct, just to show that even then it’s just a “social” test, no different than binge drinking. Can you show any evidence at all, anywhere, that an OSUMB member’s participation in the OSUMB was altered due to their decision to do or not do Midnight Ramp?

    So first of all, it’s not a sexual thing. And second of all it has absolutely no impact on the students participation in the band. These being the case, it is so far from being “sexual harassment” it’s laughable that it’s even listed in the Glaros report at all, even when using your assessment that it’s a “test”.

    But, as long as there is confusion as to what Midnight Ramp is by the public, that confusion (as well as the many other examples in the Glaros report) fits the Glaros report’s purpose of painting the band as being guilty of “sexual harassment/violence” without having to actually prove one instance of it. The band is thus guilty until proven innocent in the court of public opinion. Mission accomplished by Glaros. So keep stirring the pot of confusion as without confusion, the whole support for firing Waters begins to fall apart.

  8. Concerned Mother – I believe you are confusing “official” with “required.” When I made the band, Jon made it a strong point that at no time were we expected to consume alcohol or partake in anything that made us feel uncomfortable. These sentiments were also expressed by my squad leaders, and they made themselves available to talk about it if we were at all offended or uncomfortable in a situation. In fact, they were very over-protective of me during my first year. I was told about Midnight Ramp ahead of time, and I was also told that it was NOT REQUIRED and that I could wear whatever I wanted if I chose to participate. The directors oversaw it to make sure it was under control and no one got hurt. The point of MR was not sexual by any means. It was goofy fun. Just because many chose to be in their underwear does not make it sexual. Would it have made a difference if we wore bathing suits instead?

    Out of the Box – I continue to be offended by your perpetuation of the innuendo of discrimination against women. I am a woman who has been through this band who has never been harassed, sexual or otherwise, nor discriminated against for being a woman. I am also a woman in engineering. We have a pretty low female:male ratio there, too. I might even argue that it’s lower than in the band in my specific department. My point is that you cannot use pure numbers and nicknames by which the women to whom they were given are not even offended as proof that the band discriminates against women. I used the word “misogynistic” against you because it seems you would like to tell or even control the women in band how they should feel because they’re actual feelings don’t agree with yours; perhaps “misogynistic” was a wrong word choice. Now about the nicknames: they were used simply because they sounded cute and were fun to say. They may have been assigned with something sexual in mind, but they were not used in that context; by being called by their nicknames they did not feel degraded. Have you read Jocelyn’s (Donk) open letter to Dr. Drake? If you have, you should reread it. Jocelyn wore her nickname like an attitude, and she was one of the most beloved PEOPLE in the band. All I am saying to you is that gender is pretty much irrelevant when it comes down to official band time. Men and women get the same treatment.

  9. Dory–you seem to be overlooking the reality of at least two complaints (by women) of sexual assault by male band members–one of which resulted in the expulsion of the student who was accused, an additional accusation that has come to light since the report was filed, along with a complaint of cyber-harassment that took place DURING sexual harassment training. These are specific complaints in addition to the complaint by the mother of one of the victims in which a wider environmental problem was alleged.

  10. Rob–perhaps you can offer up an analogous situation from another University Course in which students have the option to meet on-campus at midnight in their underwear to practice whatever it is that they are learning in the course, at which alcohol was once involved (until some fool overdid it and was poisoned as a result) and where students and faculty alike see this as a normal, natural and educational extra attached to the course, and do so with a straight face.

  11. Out of the box,

    The complaints of sexual assult had nothing to do with midnight ramp, a song book, or any nickname. It had to do with an actual assault and the whole idea that the bands alleged “sexualized culture” in any way caused this is beyond ridiculous. So we have one complaint of cyber harassment and a concerned mother that didn’t like the culture. Out of 4000 alumni and 225 active members we have two complaints.

  12. And stop comparing the band to any other class at OSU. It has much more in common with a sports team than it does in the regular class. Can you tell me what normal class at OSU goes on a 8 hour bus ride and stays overnight at hotels?

  13. John–I am not the one claiming that the midnight underwear activity is just typical campus goings on. Marching Band is a credit course–which should set expectations higher than some other extra-curriculars (fraternities and sororities, etc)–and in fact DOES with regard to Title IX. Further, a good bit of what was described in the report, that has been pooh-poohed by the apologists, fits the textbook definition of hazing. Perhaps mathematics is not the forte of musicians, but I count more than two complaints within the band overall–four at least that we know of. And if you are going to count all 4000 alumni, then you will have to figure out how to account for how many assaults and complaints there MIGHT have been in previous years in which we know that the university as a whole was not reporting and accounting for such things appropriately.

    Further, you suggest that there is absolutely no link between the band culture and the assaults on women. And yet somehow a section of the band determined it was appropriate to hold a binge-drinking competition that culminated in a sexual assault. This certainly falls far below the kinds of standards and experiences that are both set as visionary for the band and being reported by many in fond tones. If this was merely the individual choice of an individual band member, how is it that nobody else there chose to intervene?

  14. I am not comparing the band to fraternities or sororities. I’m comparing it to a sport like football in which the players also receive two credits. So the football team has had a run of four players being kicked off the team for drugs. By the logic used by you and the university, coach Meyer should be fired due to a “culture of illegal drug activity”.

    When it comes to binge drinking…you can’t be serious. It is a huge problem all over colleges across the country and leads to horrible decisions being made. How is the band director going to stop this??? What kind of power over time and space do you assume he has?

  15. Out of the Box – I have overlooked nothing. I was at that sexual harassment “training,” if you call it that. The presenter did not seem to be taking it seriously at all. I took nothing from that “training” that I didn’t already already know. I’m saying that you can’t claim that all women in band are victims of sexual misconduct because a very small number had complaints. I won’t deny that those incidents happened, nor that they are small issues, but they were properly handled. I have not been sexually harassed by male band members, and many women who have been through this program have spoken up to say that they have not either.

  16. @Out of the Box – any students of any class could show at midnight at the Oval and walk, jog or sprint across it if they so chose. You and I both know that if it became a tradition to do it, students and faculty alike would see it as a normal. In fact, this is EXACTLY how the Mirror Lake Jump tradition became what it is today.

    I don’t know where you are getting “educational extra attached to the course” from. No one has said Midnight Ramp increases a band members education, and as I’ve said before no band members grade is influence positively or negatively by their choice to do or not do Midnight Ramp. Nor is any math students grade influenced positively or negatively by their choice to do or not do the Mirror Lake Jump. Why do you constantly equate Midnight Ramp to class participation and/or performance? It’s no more required by band members to do than Mirror Lake Jump is required by any other class. They are just college traditions that students do outside of class.

    And as for doing Midnight Ramp drunk, many participants of the Mirror Lake Jump ALSO do it drunk. College kids drunk at midnight. Imagine that. Say it ain’t so, Joe. Say it ain’t so!

    Stop any student walking on campus at midnight of any day of the year, and there’s a good chance you will find drunk ones. Again, it’s not a band culture thing. It’s a college culture thing. Stop vilifying band members for it!

  17. Rob–a number of people posting here and elsewhere have asserted that the Midnight Ramp was an educational exercise designed to help with stage fright, or jitters at performing before the huge crowds in the stadium. They claim that rather than being merely a bizarre social custom, it was designed to provide an exercise in courage, helpful to performance. Now, I didn’t make that up. Perhaps your problem is with them. Further, the same kind of logic has been applied to many/most of the specifics cited, or the band culture in general. The claim has been that the activities of the band are a part of a culture having deep roots and that these things could not easily be changed. Clearly many posting here and elsewhere take the stance that to do away with any of these activities would require a detrimental change to what they experienced as band members. Now, that does not support the claim that these activities were merely optional undertakings by a random few band members–having nothing to do with the culture of the band itself.

  18. Dory–I nor anybody else that I am aware of have made the claim that all women in the band were victims. However, some were, and in fact have claimed actual assaults. Let me recite again for you the facts. A complaint regarding the existence of a hostile environment spurred an investigation–as required by law. It only takes one person to complain–not an entire population. That investigation revealed a number of highly questionable activities, as attested to by a number of people, including several OSU staff, as well as documentation of some highly questionable activities. The recommendation contained within that investigation report was for the University to take action to strengthen the leadership in order to change the culture under which these things were considered acceptable.

    The University took this information and considered in addition the behavior of Jon Waters both historically and in the immediate instance and determined that the best course of action to strengthen the leadership was to replace him. And this was based on both his history of inappropriate responses (under Title IX) AND his lack of cooperation with the investigators. He was offered the opportunity to resign, which might have prevented what he and many here consider to blots on his reputation. He chose instead, urged on by a cadre of band alums who have undoubtedly been perpetrators of many of these traditions, to claim an entitlement to things not guaranteed to him under any law. And to commit the further irony of claiming that he has been discriminated against based on his gender. Perhaps you might consider applying your same criteria of one, or two, or three, or even four instances not establishing a pattern to his claim of discrimination.

  19. BTW–Dory, if the training dates back to Jon Waters’ time, the fact that neither the presenter nor the audience took it seriously is testimony to a lack of leadership. Having read through Waters list (submitted late) of things he had done to improve the culture of the band, my first question was–where is there any information about the “trainings” that he listed? Who provided them and what was the content? I saw later, in the schedule from leadership retreats provided by students, that the “training” Waters’ claimed at these retreats consisted of 45 minute student-led discussions. Now, this is hardly adequate. Further, judging by many of the posts here, I am not terribly impressed with knowledge of laws concerning discrimination, harassment or hazing. Waters claims to have preferred for emerging student leadership to deal with the problems. This is not in itself an bad approach. In fact, I would consider it a very good one. However, in Waters’ case it appears to have served merely as an excuse for doing nothing. Fostering student leadership, meaningfully might have included some actual legally- and research-based training for student leaders, followed by a review of band activities with suggestions for improvement or replacement. And the adult leadership really ought to have done away with Midnight Ramp long ago. If it served the purpose that some claimed (calming stage fright), an alternate activity could have been developed. However if it was, as it appears to the outside, merely a racy event, daring folks to strip down, then steps to shut it down should have been taken.

  20. @Out of the Box- yes, Midnight Ramp helping with the stage fright of performing in front of 100,000+ people is EXACTLY what it is. Why do you then g the extra step of equating that to being an “educational exercise” and therefore a “test” of the class?

    Is telling an actor/actress to “break a leg” an educational exercise? Is doing so a “test” in performing arts classes at OSU? Is imagining an audience you are giving a speech to being in their underwear an education exercise? Is doing so a test in speech classes at OSU?

    There is nothing educational about Midnight Ramp. Nor is there anything sexual about it. Nor is it a way to turn sober students into binge drinkers. It helps calm nerves when marching in front of 100,00+ people by being able to recall having been on that same field in your underwear. While it seems odd, strange, and weird to the public, it works. So does telling an actor/actress to “break a leg”. So does imagining an audience in their underwear you are speaking to. Despite how odd, strange and weird all these things seem to those who haven’t done them, THEY WORK!!! And if taken away, they would have a negative impact given their positive influence is now lost. Again, these OSU classes do not require students to do these nerve calming things. The students are choosing to do them on their own.

    Midnight Ramp is also an opportunity to blow off steam after spending all summer to prepare for tryouts and finally earning your spot in the band.

    You have really got to stop portraying Midnight Ramp as some deviant sexual behavior, some event that turns sober college kids into binge drinking fanatics, and/or some educational event of the class. These are all wrong. But given how wrong you are about so many things in the Glaros report, being wrong about midnight ramp leaves you par for the course.

  21. Rob–you must know SOMEBODY in pre-law. How about you get someone to give you some basic legal definitions with regard to some basics such as coercion, hostile environment and court rulings on the responsibilities of universities for hazing practices–whether on or off campus, as well as student to student behaviors as concerns Title IX whether on or off campus.

  22. It is not the band director’s job to stop someone’s individual independent activity, but it is within the director’s ability to make sure inappropriate behavior is not associated with their class, team, band, etc. And it is the director’s call, and ultimately the university’s call, what is deemed appropriate.

    By saying, there will be parties tonight but “it’s ok, you don’t have to go to them.” “Let’s have everyone stand up who didn’t drink their freshmen year, to make you feel ok for not drinking.” That implies that the people who do not stand are equally supported by the band, especially if the number of people who stand are fewer than the number of people who do not stand. The new freshmen member trying to figure out college sees “alright, it’s fine to not drink, but with the number people sitting, I’m not going to have any consequences within the band if I do drink underage.” This is especially true if squad leaders and student leadership are sitting.

    The only way for that activity to have positive impact would be if EVERYONE stood when asked that question. The freshmen would have a much larger impression that that type of activity does not happen by people within this campus group and not only is it OK to not partake, they SHOULD not partake if they want to be part of the ensemble.

    What is deemed appropriate behavior does not have to cross a legal boundary. In the band, jewelry, make-up, long hair, and facial hair are not allowed in uniform. None of those behaviors are illegal. But you will not march if you attempt to do any of those things. Is that oppressive rules? No, it is the established norms for acceptable dress for the group. I suspect multiple members, from the squad leaders on up, would have a fit before it ever got to the level of the director to address it, and then he/she would put and end to it… and you would not march if you broke those rules. Clear message, don’t do those thing. That is part of the culture.

    Giving the message that make-up in uniform is a cardinal sin, but binge drinking parties (who’s participants commonality is that they are are in the band or are alumni), sexually themed nicknames, midterms, etc. are ok (or at minimum tolerated, or given the message ‘well we just can’t do anything about that’) Is a dangerous atmosphere and easily leads to more dangerous situations if they have not happened already.

    The University can ask for the band director’s resignation/termination for many reasons that do not have to cross the line of legality. And if it hold’s up that the band director was an at-will employee in Ohio, they have even more discretion.

    Jameis Winston did nothing illegal by standing on a table and yelling something stupid. But, the coaches did not have a meeting of the team and say “Ok, men, there are probably going to be people who stand on tables and say obscene and dumb things. But it’s ok, please do not feel pressured that you have to stand on table and say obscene things. In fact, let’s have everyone stand who did not partake in standing on tables and saying obscene comments.” No… they said … Mr. Winston, this is not acceptable behavior to represent our team and our school. You, our star player, are suspended for a game. When he suited up to stand on the sidelines, they said … get back their and get your gear off. What’s the message to everyone else? Don’t do that behavior in your off-time. Culture established, and enforced.

    Mr. Waters and the alumni should be supporting Mr. Waters’ next stage of his life towards something positive. Not crying over this. I think Jim Tressel is one of the greatest college coaches, and human beings, there is. He is a great football mind. He had high standards, structured approach, really got Ohio State (and the band too). He listed off the top 10 things that happen at an Ohio State football game. #1 was the flag going up and the national anthem. The band and Script Ohio were in there. None of the top ten things had to do with football. Jim Tressel was grounded, balanced, and a good role model. He probably did not intend to violate any NCAA rules, and the incidents that happened that were not reported were questionable and some say very minor. But Jim Tressel took his lumps, and went on to the next stage of his life in a manner that makes him even more of a tremendous example. (Now the President of Youngstown)

    If Mr. Waters is so entrenched in the OSU band culture, that he does not think he can do anything else, then I feel extremely sad for him. Mr. Waters got the short end of the stick for mainly other people’s behaviors. The inappropriate behaviors in the band were not impossible to change; they are being changed now (and abruptly), it’s painful, but it’s happening. If the changes do not take hold, future directors will lose their jobs until they do.

    When Jim Tressel was fired, buckeye nation as a whole wanted him to keep his job, but he did not whine and say “The true culture of the majority of the football team was NOT to get tattoos for free. Look, 90% of the current team didn’t get tattoos for free, and hundreds of our alumni football players didn’t get tattoos for free. I am the best person for the job to make sure students follow the rules. I’m entitled to be the ohio state football coach for as long as I want.” And you can bet that Urban Meyer’s current football players will be sure not to sell memorabilia for free services, because there is a precedent of firing the coach for their (again off campus behavior) if they do so.

    There is more to life than Ohio State football, than the Ohio State band. Jim Tressel gets that. I believe there are much brighter days ahead for Mr. Waters, and the alumni should support him as a person, not identify him solely as the OSU marching band director. He’s got more going for him than that limited scope. Mr. Waters will be better for it, and the culture of the band and the university will grow from it for the long term. The continued fight prevents that from happening and diminishes the person, the alumni, and the organization.

  23. @out of the box – in other words, YOU can’t make your argument, so I should go find someone who can make your argument for you. Okay, got it!

  24. Ummm, no Rob. You need to understand that there is a basis in the law for what I have been expressing.

  25. Out of the Box – The training was during Jon’s time and he required athletic band members to go; as marching band was off-season he could not require the marching band to go, but he highly encouraged it, and attendance of all marching and athletic band members was taken. Also note that many in the marching band take part in the athletic band in the off-season. But here is the detail you probably don’t know: the training was not primarily being held for us. It was held for university athletes. Unrelated to this discussion but perhaps noteworthy is that of all of the teams there, we (the band members) were not granted the free parking afforded to the other athletes. It was a student-led effort by two athletes, one male and one female (I can’t remember the teams they were on). Jon had nothing to do with the programming of it, and perhaps he should have looked into it more first.
    During the season that year, Jon also brought in a woman from Student Life to speak to us about alcohol issues, but the discussion became about nicknames and “gender issues.” Many people argued the advantages of having nicknames, it being a family thing, while some male members with more offensive nicknames did speak up to say that they did not like their nickname; these people were applauded by the whole band. She then turned the discussion after mentioning that she did not see many women in the room. Many women spoke up to refute that we have a problem simply because of numbers because we never felt singled out by our male peers. We expressed that we had been treated like equals. The most negative thing about “being a girl in band” I remember from that discussion was the fact that we have to do band hair and the guys don’t. Sexual harassment never came up because none of us felt that it was an issue. This discussion occurred before the alleged sexual assault.
    On Midnight Ramp, Jon had made the decision in May that it was no longer going to be an event. He genuinely believed that the “calming nerves” explanation was not a good enough reason. He knew there was a better and more appropriate way. And, I cannot repeat this enough, PARTICIPATION WAS NOT REQUIRED! It wasn’t even really encouraged. It just happened. This, along with the abolition of nicknames in general, was going to be a change regardless of whether or not this investigation happened. Surely, as I see you’ve read Jon’s list of cultural changes he made, you should know these already.
    Okay, you’re right that no one has outwardly made the claim that all band women are victims of harassment, but you’re ignoring the sentiments of those who did NOT feel victimized, especially those listed in the report who have spoken up. The report essentially took those people’s right to not be offended away, and now they are not being listened to. What this entire issue has done for us is open male and female members to harassment by the public. Everyone tells us not to retaliate against those who contributed to the investigation, even though we would never do such a thing. Those individuals have been through enough. WE have not been protected from retaliation.
    I see my meddling here to share my experience to get you to see it from the point of view of the vast majority has been in vain. You just refuse to see the wrong the university has done us. I’m done here. Have a nice life.

  26. “The report essentially took those people’s right to not be offended away”


    The investigation did not simply spring up (as I reiterate yet again), but was a legal requirement in response to a complaint. Yes–in the past the University as a whole did a really poor job of following the law when complaints were made. It is my understanding that this is why the University asked for the Title IX review–to provide guidance.

    So, yes, the response to this complaint was very likely different than earlier complaints, in that there was a fairly complete investigation. That does not mean that it was unfair or that anyone was being targeted. Further, the report masked the identities of students who were interviewed. Some have chosen to identify themselves publically, and while I am not aware of any particular public retaliatory actions against any of them–beyond allusions to them in discussions such as this, the protection against retaliation refers to acts on the part of the University. If you are accusing the University of retaliatory action, perhaps you would be so kind as to be more specific as to what you are referring.

  27. Chris… er… um… I mean Out of the Box (sorry about using your real name).

    My position is from discussion from practicing lawyers. Why would you advise me to seek the counsel of pre-law students to understand your legal basis?

    If OSU is going to hide behind the “at will” relationship it had with Waters, then it’s because they can’t prove any legal basis for firing him. Because no organization in their right mind would give someone a glowing, praising job review, and then turn around weeks later and fire them for “at will” reasons. If you honestly think OSU had legal basis here, then OSU needs to let go of their ridiculous “at will” position here.

    By the way, Betty Montgomery just recommended that the band “reinstitute the rookie name tradition” and called Midnight Ramp an “inherently charming tradition”. These are things you have characterized over and over in your replies in the absolute most negative light possible. It’s amazing how an unbiased investigation can come to such different conclusions than you.

    Perhaps you should just take a moment, just a small one, to reflect on how negatively biased you have been, and how sharing your negatively biased opinions publicly is more harassing to thousands of present and former band members than any band member has ever been to a fellow band member. I’m ashamed that you are employed by the school I once loved. You’re nearly as bad as Drake himself.

  28. Rob–employment at will is the legal status of every single employee in the state of Ohio that does not have any sort of contractual agreement otherwise. It’s not hiding behind anything. It is a statement of legal fact. LEGALLY the only protections against being fired are those codified under discrimination laws.

    And–I read the report. Montgomery’s “charming” reference was a precursor to a recommendation that it continue WITHOUT the clothing optional expectations. And she found the practice as described to be coercive with regard to the removal of clothing.

    Reinstating the rookie naming tradition was likewise conditional on the establishment of a Compliance Officer within the band who would review each of the assigned names.

  29. Wow! You are so obtuse.

    If “at will” is the position OSU is taking to justify it’s firing, then OSU is idiotic for giving John a glowing review weeks before firing him. BY diving even deeper into the “at will” position, you are solidifying that OSU is a bunch of idiots. Keep it up.

    And in regards to the Montgomery report, I’d go on record saying I’d agree with all of it 100%! It’s an honest and thorough investigative report. Compare that to the Glaros report, and your many accusations on this page, which are sweeping generalizations made in the most negative light possible.

    In addition to the training the band should be receiving, the powers that be at OSU need training on how to manage a university, and not jump to conclusions based on biased and flawed reports that result in damaging the reputations of thousands of its students, both current and alumni, as well as jumping the gun on firing someone who just received a glowing review. The overreaction of OSU is far worse than any action any band member has ever done in the OSUMB. Thank God for Betty Montgomery who showed the real story. Glaros, and everyone such as yourself that went all in with his story should be FIRED!!!

  30. Rob–At will is the reason that Waters has no standing to challenge his firing. It is also the reason his attorney is relying on Title IX to establish standing based on sexual discrimination (against Waters).

  31. So OSU is an employer that gives glowing job performance reviews, yet turns around only weeks later to fire them justified in the eyes of the law by “at will”.

    I understand it’s legal for OSU to do. Do you understand what a crappy employer that makes OSU? I hope you do, because you are an employee of OSU.

  32. Actually, Rob, I am not an employee of OSU.

    However the vast majority of workers in this state and others are employees at will–covered by no contract and protected only by the anti-discrimination laws and what might be left of things like wage and hour laws and work-place safety. If protecting employees from the caprice of employers was simply a matter of being a “good” employer, there would not be nearly the opposition to codifying some basic protections any time it is attempted.

    In this case, however, the skills and abilities that the position calls for have changed dramatically over a period of just a few years, influenced by changes in the willingness of OCR to actively enforce Title IX (along with the Clery Act), a new President with a different point of view with regard to some things like student drinking and hazing (more in line with the law as well as basic safety considerations), and a Title IX complaint that required an investigation. Yes, it is likely that there were previous complaints in previous years that were never properly investigated–and the University suffered no damages. However to use that as the basis for ongoing policy would be foolhardy.

    Likewise, it would be equally foolhardy to rely on job evaluations from that earlier environment as an indicator that Mr. Waters is competent to move forward under a very different set of expectations. As the University accepts responsibility they will likely be acting on recommendations in the Montgomery report with regard for increased supervision of the band and increased connection to the rest of the University. A review of multiple encounters between Waters and other portions of the University, as well as his not only having been schooled under the Woods “circle the wagons” management approach but also continuing in like manner reveal a person not likely to have the desire, let alone the skills, experience and abilities to lead through this change. And that is what the University had to consider. That does not make them a bad employer.

  33. BTW–of you understand that OSU had every right to fire Waters, for good or bad reasons, then you understand that his case will most likely be tossed out of court, right?

  34. You’re digging yourself a hole here. If “in this case” (quoting you), “the skills and abilities that the position calls for have changed dramatically over a period of just a few years” then the glowing job review, and the complete LACK of direction (due to the changes) provided to Jon by his boss in said review show how seriously OSU failed to communicate said “dramatic” changes. Essentially you expect Jon to just intuit on his own that he should do the job differently than Dr Woods did the same job for 28 years, of which Waters witnessed half of Woods’ years.

    You could be fired the same way tomorrow. Your boss shows up and says to you:

    “Unbeknownst to you, your position has changed dramatically, and despite the glowing review I gave you weeks ago, you’re fired for not meeting these new changes I never told you about… and oh by the way, since you’re an at will employee, you have no legal recourse. As you’re leaving I’m publishing a YouTube video that will destroy your character and probably your career, as well as tarnish the reputation of thousands of your present and former students. Have a nice life!”

  35. Yes, Rob. Now you are catching on. Most working people have little to no protection from capricious firings.

    All that other about destruction of character and career–well, that’s some really huge suppositions there.

    But Waters cannot have it both ways. He cannot simultaneously claim to have been making progress regarding change in the climate and also that he had no idea of the environment driving a need for such changes.

    One of the appendixes to the Montgomery report is a business plan of sorts that Waters put together BEFORE the May 2014 complaint. In it he requested a change in staffing for the band citing a number of existing and hoped for changes–increased fund-raising and performances, for instance. What is telling about that plan–in contrast to his later summary of efforts to change the band culture–is that there is no concern whatsoever for increased oversight and supervision, or any mention of strategic planning to impact culture. In fact, the only mention related to it at all was in reference to enhanced training requirements (for which he needed additional scheduling staff)–from outside the band, and the need for documentation and public relations work resulting from two assault accusations. This reinforces what was apparent from his submission, that it was an after the fact attempt at CYA, that there was no pro-active thought being put into changing band culture or activities, and that Waters regarded any such training, etc, as just jumping through hoops put in place by others. Statements by his legal counsel have further underlined this by suggesting that they had anticipated just a “corrective action plan” with some steps (like training) to check off.

    Couple that with the evidence on several occasions of his attempts to whitewash drinking incidents in violation of multiple university and band policies, and considering the reality that President Drake had just walked in the door, and clearly was Waters not the person to give leadership to the band in making needed changes–which will include a different relationship to the University as a whole, but that this was a very good time to make the change.

    And yes, Rob, this happens all the time.

  36. Waters isn’t claiming he had no idea the environment need changed. He’s claiming he received no indication that the expectations of his job had changed.

    No one is making the case that the band is made up of angels and doesn’t need improvement. What people are saying is that the Glaros report, and people like you who ate it up at face value, present everything it found in the most negative light possible. They also say that firing Waters was an extreme over reaction to the real state of the band.

    Had the Betty Montgomery report been the Glaros report, OSU wouldn’t have decided to vilify its students and fire Waters. For example, Betty calls Midnight Ramp “charming” and should be continued minus the underwear aspect. You on the other hand have equated Midnight Ramp to sexual harassment and an event that turns sober students who have never tasted an ounce of alcohol into stumbling drunks. Betty found only around five percent of nicknames to be objectionable and called for the reinstatement of the nickname tradition minus the objectionable ones. You on the other hand have equated nicknames to sexual harassment and that band members are incapable of distinguishing what is and is not objectionable.

    You’re only justification for firing Waters and vilifying the students is that the school can legally do it. You’re right, it can. That doesn’t make it moral. I, and the majority of the public find it sickening. All of us will just have to wait until you, Drake, Glaros, and the like leave the school in shame… then we will all celebrate, as we LEGALLY will be able to do then.

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