COLUMBUS -- Ohio State University has fired the director of its marching band and is expanding an internal investigation that uncovered a deep culture of sexual harassment among students that reportedly has existed for years.
The two-month investigation, triggered by the complaint of a parent, revealed a cascade of evidence that students routinely harassed one another –– often directed at new band members by older students –– and that director Jonathan Waters knew about it or should have known.
Waters, 38, an Elmore native, was ousted from his post effective today, OSU President Michael V. Drake said. Details of the investigation are laid out in a 23-page report obtained by The Dispatch in Columbus.
Drake said he was disappointed by the findings and the firing, but that all of the university’s senior leaders agreed to the dismissal after reading the report.
“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,” Drake said in a Dispatch interview this morning.
“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,” he added.
Examples of abuse include an annual midnight band practice at Ohio Stadium in which men and women were expected to march wearing only their underwear. In one recent year, a student suffered alcohol poisoning at the practice. Students led the rehearsal, but staff members, including Waters, were there, too.