Ohio State University Band Director Fired Over Sexualized Culture

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UPDATED: Thursday July 24, 2014 6:47 PM

The Ohio State University has fired Band Director Jon Waters.

The school says the action comes after an investigation by the Office of University Compliance over the past two months revealed "serious cultural issues and an environment conducive to sexual harassment within the Marching Band."

The findings revealed that conduct of the band and staff "is inconsistent with the University's values and Title IX requirements."

The two-month investigation was triggered by the complaint of a parent.  It revealed evidence that students routinely harassed one another and 38-year-old Waters knew about it or should have known.

READ: Full Investigation Report (WARNING: Explicit Content)

STATEMENT: Ohio State University 

VIDEO: More Local Reaction

MORE COVERAGE: The Columbus Dispatch

Some of the incidents outlined in the investigation including a “Midnight Ramp” where students would march into Ohio Stadium wearing only underwear.  The report reveals Water was present and oversaw the event, but ended the practice last month.

Other examples include sexual nicknames given to rookie band members.   At least two witnesses revealed Waters used at least one of the sexual nicknames to a band member.   One witness said Waters sought out nicknames of members.  When asked why he tolerated such nicknames, Waters replied, “good point” and said the band was in a “transformative state” regarding nicknames.

Witnesses also stated rookie members were assigned to perform “tricks” upon command – some of which were sexual in nature.   However Waters stated that he never witnessed nor heard of any of the tricks, and does not believe that such tricks are “performed on Band time.”

Witnesses also discussed a Songbook containing misogynistic and alternate sexual lyrics to Ohio State and numerous other collegiate songs.  Waters says he saw the book as a student at Ohio State University, but did not view it as a staff member.

In March of 2013, the university investigated a report of sexual harassment.  The university said "Significant concerns were raised... about the manner in which Waters responded."  Both the university's legal affairs department and Title IX coordinator offered additional  consultation, training and resources to the band, but the report says Waters made no effort to schedule any training until after a sexual assault in Fall 2013.

In a statement to 10TV, Waters’ attorney David Axelrod says the former band director disagrees with the way he was characterized in the report. 

He says Waters “bleeds Scarlet & Gray” and is “a solid citizen as they come.”

Axelrod goes on to state that Waters looked to change the sexualized culture of the Ohio State University Marching Band and is disappointed in the report’s findings.

Waters met with University officials last week and was told by adopting a zero-tolerance policy and changing the sexualized culture, he would keep his job.

He adds that Waters “did not create” the culture and “tried as hard as he could to change” it.

It’s unclear if Waters will seek to get his job back.

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