Thursday, July 24, 2014

Ohio State Marching Band Director Fired Over Sexual Harassment

Today it was reported that Jonathan Waters, the director of Ohio State University's marching band, was fired for tolerating sexual harassment among the students in the band. In response to a parent's complaint about the band's secretive and sexualized atmosphere, the University conducted an internal investigation into the matter and produced a report detailing its findings. Among them, the investigation revealed that Waters and other staff members supervised an annual tradition that involved students marching into the football stadium in their underwear at midnight.  Another set of findings involved the sexualized nicknames assigned to band rookies by the upperclassment, which Waters knew about and sometimes used.  The findings also detailed sexualized content in band newsletters, songs, and various tests, challenges required of rookies that Waters knew or should have known was going on.

OSU concluded based on these findings that the band consisted of a sexualized and hostile environment, that Waters knew about and did not take adequate steps to prevent.  Acknowledging its duty under university policy and Title IX, the university terminated Waters and vowed to realigm the band with the University's mission through stronger oversight, policies and procedures. This seems to be a good example of proactive behavior on the part of a university to uncover and respond to Title IX problems.