Jonathan Waters, the marching band director at Ohio State University, has been fired by the school following a two-month investigation that discovered “serious cultural issues and an environment conducive to sexual harassment” among the students, according to USA Today and The Columbus Dispatch.
A statement from Ohio State President Michael Drake said the following:
“Nothing is more important than the safety of our students. We expect every member of our community to live up to a common standard of decency and mutual respect and to adhere to university policies. Moving forward, we must abide by a zero tolerance policy at the University—both with the Marching Band and the entire campus community—for any behavior that creates a hostile culture at Ohio State. I view this as a new day and an opportunity for the Ohio State community to come together and embrace the values and behavior that have made this University great.”
In an interview with The Columbus Dispatch, Drake said, “We care about what is happening when we are looking, but we also care about what is happening when we are not looking, and our leaders have a responsibility to set that standard and to enforce it. We’re looking for a future where that band can continue to thrive and do wonderful things, but some of the aspects of how the band was guided are not acceptable in the modern world.”
A complaint from a parent triggered the investigation, which found that students routinely sexually harassed one another and that Waters either knew about it or should have known about it.
The report discusses an “annual tradition of members marching across the field in their underwear under the supervision of the Marching Band directors and staff, including Jonathan Waters.”
On May 23, a parent of a band member went to the Office of University Compliance and Integrity to report concerns about the ‘sexualization’ of the band and that its members were “made to swear secrecy oaths about objectionable traditions and customs.”
Waters has been in charge since October of 2012. He previously served as interim director, assistant director and graduate assistant. He was a member of the band from 1995-99 while in school.