Photo by Ed Crockett
Jonathan Waters, director of The Ohio State University Marching Band, has been fired following the release of an investigation into the band. The investigation was the result of a parent complaint that the “band’s culture was sexualized and that its members were made to swear secrecy oaths about objectionable traditions and customs.”
The detailed report includes descriptions and witness testimony regarding sexual harassment, sexual nicknames, sexual “tricks” performed by band members, offensive newsletters and song books distributed, inappropriate bus behavior, and more. A large section is devoted to a tradition called “Midnight Ramp,” an event personally attended by Waters where band members marched across the field in their underwear late at night.
The investigation committee listed two conclusions: “1) The Marching Band’s culture facilitated acts of sexual harassment, creating a hostile environment for students. 2) Jonathan Waters, the Marching Band’s Director, knew or reasonably should have known about this culture but failed to eliminate the sexual harassment, prevent its recurrence, and address its effects.”
With football season just weeks away, OSU has yet to name an interim director but hopes to soon. After Dr. Jon Woods retired from a 28-year tenure in 2011-12, Waters, himself a band alumnus, took over as director. Under his leadership the band has been in the spotlight even more than usual and gained a new level of worldwide viral fame for their intricately themed halftime shows, taught using a new system of iPads and apps. The attention led to their appearance in a frequently aired Apple television commercial.