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Letter to the editor: No inappropriate dancing or drinking at marching band dance

Letter to the editor:

I would like to voice my opinion about the so-called “sexualized culture” and “excessive use of alcohol” of the Ohio State Marching Band. As a former member of the Athletic Band, I’ve had a previous insight into the band culture. When the report initially came out, I was appalled at the accusations made toward this phenomenal group of people.   

This past weekend, I was honored to attend the annual Band Dance. As a junior in college, I have attended many club social events and what I observed at this band event somewhat surprised me. Alcohol was not served, which has not been the case at any other social events I have attended for other clubs. Aside from that, the dancing also surprised me. Everyone had a sense of professionalism about them. There was no “grinding” or suggestive dancing to be seen. It makes me wonder, how can inappropriate dancing be accepted in a high school environment while it is obviously frowned upon by the members of this outstanding group? There was no contract or list of rules that was made to be followed, just a consensual, unspoken agreement on how to act.

To me, this proves that the “sexualized culture” reference was far too absurd. The members of this band provide the foundation of pride and tradition to this entire university. Without them, we would not be able to celebrate a Buckeye win with the singing of “Carmen Ohio.” Without them, nothing would keep the momentum up during games to encourage our team to fight harder. Coach Urban Meyer comments at many pre-game Skull Sessions on how much he and the football team appreciate the efforts of the band. He emphasizes its importance weekly. If the band is that important to them, it should be that important to everyone else in this university. 

I also had the pleasure of performing under the direction of former Marching Band director Jon Waters. I can personally advocate that he in fact was making steps to change the culture of the band. All I ask is that my opinion be heard and that everyone will take a minute to read and understand the facts about this wonderful group of people without judging them based on an incredibly biased investigation report filed by the university. We should all be working together to keep the pride and tradition alive, and to do so, the band and Dr. Waters requires our support. 

Brittany Clark

Third-year in meat science

clark.2111@osu.edu

13 comments

  1. I have been appalled by the actions of the University. Very eloquently put.

  2. Thank you Brittany for your insight. Just know you are not alone. Thousands of OSU alums are appalled and disheartened at the incredibly disturbing way Jon Waters was dismissed.

    I firmly believe that Jon will overcome what has happened…. and sooner rather than later he will find a position where his superiors will recognize what an amazing person he is…and that OSU has lost.

  3. Brittany, as an alumna of the band and mother if a current member, I really appreciate your supportive response to this article. My years in band were a treasured experience and my pride in my son being in band has been tremendous. I am pleased to see your comments reinforce my faith in the band and my belief that Jon Waters should be reinstated.

  4. Brittany,

    Thank you for your comments. I have been a band member for 5 years now, and I had the same observations my first time going to the band dance. The dance was not the typical DJ blasting hip-hop and dance music to encourage “grinding”. The Band Dance hosts a live band playing a set of quality music that is just plain fun to dance to. Yes, I will admit the first few band dances I went to, alcohol was a problem. However, ever since Jon Waters took over in 2012, these problems have virtually vanished. For the past two years, we haven’t had a single issue with intoxication. This is because of the steps Jon took to threaten suspension from the band for those who made poor choices.

    The band dance is sort of a case study into the band’s real culture in my opinion. I would have never told you that the problem with the band dance was it’s “sexual nature”. The bigger problem is the choices certain individuals have made in the past to abuse alcohol. This directly parallels to my views of the OSU Marching Band Culture (and the Betty Montgomery Report). The the immediate culture shaping that was addressed by Jon Waters was Alcohol Abuse, which often was a root cause for other issues. Prior to the Glaros Report, I would have never have described the band’s culture as sexualized.

    With that being said, I would venture to say Band Members use of Alcohol is right on par with the average OSU student, if not better. The band contains a number of scholars and highly involved students. Band members frankly don’t have the time to go out drinking every day of the week.

  5. Brittany, thank you for sharing your observations. More people need to know that what you experienced is the norm for the band, and that the members of the band are far more respectful in their behavior than an average college student. I sincerely hope the administration pays attention to what you have written.

  6. The steps that Jon Waters was taking to improve the band’s culture were right on target here. I would encourage all doubters of his commitment to this to do done reading. His recommendations are found in one of the appendixes of Betty Montgomery’s report. There is striking resemblance to her 37 recommendations and Mr. Waters. The university made a terrible mistake with his firing. It is now time for th to step up and admit it. He was the right person at the right time for The Pride of the Buckeyes! ( he still is)

  7. Yeah, sure..........

    Thanks for your perspective on the situation. There are always going to be some people that take advantage of situations but we cannot let them define the majority.
    The majority of OSUMB members are hard working, intelligent, talented individuals that give much to realize their dreams of marching with The Best Damn Band In The Land. The university using a broad brush to defame all band members is wrong.

    Jon Waters understood that you change things by having the people on your side, not by demanding change. That just leads to the actions going underground, exactly what was put forward in the Montgomery Report. If only the University had given Jon Waters and the OSUMB the benefit of the doubt, instead of branding them, how much better it would have been for everyone, especially the students the University claims they are trying so hard to “protect”.

    And no, I am not a band alumni nor do I have family in the band. I can think for myself and don’t need TBDBITL alumni to tell me what is right and wrong, I can see that for myself and the University is wrong.

  8. “meat science”

  9. Ah, yes. More affirmations of how wonderful the Band is. I do not doubt the many things that have been said about closeness, community and family. Both the intensity of the performance experience and the resultant isolation of members from other University socializing would tend to produce such. However, the down-side of such insularity and intensity is a tendancy towards tunnel vision and the acceptance of dysfunctions that would be readily apparent in other circumstances. I would imagine that the most recent band dance was a squeaky clean experience. However, before crediting too much to Waters for this, consider that in 4 of the previous 5 years, the Band was not allowed to return to the hosting venue due to drunkenness and destruction of property. Further, the band fraternity that sponsored the dances was sanctioned by its national office for alcohol violations.

    So, yes, one can credit Waters for putting in place a reactive policy that first, no alcohol be served, and following that, that anyone arrived intoxicated would not be allowed in and may face more specific sanctions. However, cultures are not changed with reactive policies, but rather with pro-active planning, preventative education and diversion. Not only is there a dearth of such, but there also appears to have been very little in the way of actual sanctions applied in any of the earlier dances in which students were inebriated and misbehaved.

  10. Thank you, Brittany. I hope those who read and appreciate your letter will continue to — or, if they haven’t done so yet, realize they need to begin to — take action! What action? Simply advocate for the administration to reconsider what they have done and settle the lawsuit with Jon Waters, ASAP. Ask them to start by reading the Betty Montgomery Task Force report, and honestly looking at the big picture it paints rather than treating it as preparation for litigation. I suspect the administration could settle without paying out millions of our tuition and tax dollars. Agree to reinstate Mr. Waters, apologize for defaming the 4000+ MarchingBand alumni and the 225+ current members, and provide at least some of the additional support for the Band that is recommended in the Task Force report.

  11. OUT OF THE BOX: Let me get your position straight. You’re faulting Waters for implementing reactive responses to bad behavior and are instead suggesting that there be deeper education and planning? Maybe you’re new to his whole drama, but in case you didn’t notice, Waters was fired because his actions to steer band culture over two years through Squad Leader training and grass-roots buy-in was too slow and got him fired.

    Actually, I think your take on this does an excellent job of highlighting the absurdity of university’s expectations for behavior within the realities of college life and young adult life at-large, and the technique for modifying culture in a manner that doesn’t push it further underground.

    The truth is that Waters was doing BOTH of these things. Granted, he didn’t exhaustively employ either technique but I think that’s because he wanted both short-term and long-term results but was constricted by both limited resources and limited purview into off-duty activities. The injustice here is that the university’s Glaros report ignored anything positive Waters was doing, blamed him for bad things that occurred before he was director and things that are outside his purview, and never gave him enough time to realize the benefits of the changes he was employing.

  12. I saw a movie once called Jack A$$. It’s about 10 years old now. I saw a movie once called Animal House. It’s about 40 years old now. Both have characters in their 20s doing outrageous things and/or alcohol related shenanigans. The older of the two is set on a college campus. The behaviors they enact span three generations. So while people seem to want to call the band’s behavior “insular”. It seems to me those people are either naïve or are the sheltered ones.

  13. 2000–I would suggest that Waters’ efforts at slower and more internal changes were mostly mythology, constructed after the fact. In his report to the Compliance Office, what was contained was minimal “training” of questionable value. When a student-provided agenda was later available (contained in their report to the President), this was born out even further. The band leadership had roughly an hour of student-led culture “discussion” covering assault, harassment and hazing.

    Montgomery’s report details specifics of what proactive efforts might look like, such as the provision of acceptable criteria for the Fesler videos, and the hiring of a band compliance person to review them, along with nicknames, for adherence to desired norms. Clearly there are within the band members–and possibly the majority of members–who come to the University with previously internalized values of respect for one another across gender and cultural divides. Including the band more widely in setting acceptable standards–as well as follow-up with those who fail to live up (apparently some specific “rows” were notably disrespectful and disorderly)–would significantly enhance the chances of adherence–along with clear messaging and follow-through from leadership, both of which were questioned repeatedly in the report.

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