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Alumni show support for Jon Waters at Ohio State Marching Band practice

July 30, 2014

Hickman.201@osu.edu
IMG_6401

Mike Constantine (far right, passing out stack of signs that read “We Stand with Jon Waters”) Credit: Mark Batke/ Photo editor

James Lang, a 2000 graduate of Ohio State, said he will not give one more dollar to the university unless they reinstate former marching band director Jonathan Waters, who was terminated last week.

“I will pull all funding from the Ohio State University,” Lang said. “I am very close to starting my Ph.D., and I know that I am not applying to Ohio State now.”

Lang is one of many OSU alumni who gathered to show support for Waters at a voluntary practice for those hoping to make the band Wednesday night. Signs were passed out containing four white horizontal stripes on a black background. Each stripe contained one word of the phrase, “We stand with Jon Waters” in a red, capitalized font.

Waters was fired after a 23-page report from a two-month investigation determined the band’s culture was “an environment conducive to sexual harassment,” according to a released statement from President Michael Drake last week. It concluded that Waters was either aware of, or reasonably should have been aware of, the “sexual” culture but didn’t do enough to address it or prevent it from happening.

Examples listed in the report include an annual band practice in Ohio Stadium that Waters attended where students were expected to march in only their underwear, sexually explicit nicknames that were given to new band members and a case where a female student was told to imitate a sexual act on laps of band members.

Lang said Waters was a band member at the same time he was and became a graduate assistant during Lang’s senior year.

“He was a leader, and kids looked up to him. He’s touched the lives of thousands of students, and we are here to support that,” Lang said.

Alex Marras, a 2011 graduate and former C-Row trumpet, said he didn’t think Waters had enough time to change traditions that existed decades before Waters became head director in 2012.

Marras said Waters worked to change the band’s culture for the better when he was an assistant director during Marras’ time in the band.

Although he said he wished not to elaborate, Marras said there was one tradition in particular Waters “changed drastically” by “not allowing people to be around the stadium where they previously would have been.”

Marras also said not all rookie names were sexual. He said his name was “Goose.”

Mike Constantine, creator of the Facebook page that organized the gathering, said the event was mainly to show support for Waters and to help him clear his name. Constantine said Waters is his best friend, former neighbor and the godfather to his youngest son.

“This show of support from the community at Ohio State and across the country have really helped with (Waters and his family’s) spirits and have shown them how much people really care about them,” Constantine said.

Also sitting among the crowd was Fred Deiderich, father to second-year student Frederick Deiderich, who was in the marching band last year. Fred Deiderich said he and his wife were really disappointed by the situation and didn’t feel the investigation was a fair representation of what the band culture is really like.

“He did not deserve to be fired,” Fred Diederich said. “I think they (OSU) are going to need to give him his job back or they are going to have a lot of upset fans and alumni that they are going to lose the support of.”

Despite Waters’ termination, Fred Diederich said his son plans to try out for the band again this year.

OSU has been relatively mum on the situation following an initial released statement from President Michael Drake on an OSU website last week.

The statement said an interim director will be named before a new head director is chosen.

OSU spokesman Gary Lewis did not respond to repeated emails regarding the search, including how soon an interim director will be named and how much the process will cost.

The statement also said former Ohio Attorney General Betty Montgomery has been appointed to lead an independent task force that will further review the band’s culture. That task force will include representatives from Ernst & Young, which is set to conduct an investigatory review, the Sports Conflict Institute, which will conduct a separate independent review and “outside counsel” that will guide the task force on Title IX compliance.

Title IX is a section of the Education Amendments of 1972 that aims to protect against discrimination based on sex in education programs that receive federal funding.


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Comments (18)

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  1. KrisC says:

    Investigate the press! Who is at the bottom of driving this story to a national controversy that has been going on for days now? Coaches, military officers, etc. have always been known to use expletives and college students have always done dumb stunts. That’s the nature of the young.

  2. steve says:

    i keep hearing that students do sexual things in college so this is all ok. earth and reality to the ignorant: there is a HUGE difference between what a student chooses to do on their own time and what they are forced to do by a university official in representing the university. how would any of theses supporters fell if it was their daughter who was told to imitate a sexual act on another band member? there is never any excuse for that. as alum we all love OSU and the band is indeed the best damn band in the land but sexualizing band practice is not an OSU value. ever.

  3. Jon says:

    Steve, you have a great point. The reason for the outrage is because literally nothing you described ever took place. If you carefully read the report and speak with those who were present at the time, you’ll see that the report carefully misrepresents in order to get people to draw the conclusion that Jon Waters was somehow involved or complacent. Nothing could be further from the truth.

  4. Speculative says:

    How you handle personal disagreement with a university firing: the true test of whether you love your alma mater or yourself more.

  5. Tom Cain says:

    Jon Waters was made a scapegoat for nothing. Disgraceful.

  6. Andy says:

    @Speculative:
    How you handle disagreement with firing someone based on limited and factually questionable evidence: the true test of whether you love reality or sticking your fingers in your ears shouting “LALALA I CAN’T HEAR YOU” more

  7. Mike Constantine says:

    Clarification to your story. I created the Facebook page but did not organize the event. It was organized by the great alumni of the band. I was simply there to show my support for the current band and also for Jon.

  8. Michael McKibben says:

    This Jon Waters controversy reminds me of the reporter who shoved a microphone in front of a devoted family man and asked, “When are you going to stop beating your wife.”

    Michael McKibben ’72
    TBDBITL F-Row, Q-Row
    Asst. Squad Leader

  9. Speculative says:

    @Andy. Case in point. Getting angry because you disagree with the decision, in my opinion, shouldn’t support financial support of students at Ohio State. Must alumni donations go directly to a student scholarship-providing endowment. Don’t punish the students for what you believe is an inappropriate University decision. Most students support Waters, anyway. Did you donate to your school because you cared about the students, or because you wanted to preserve a legacy exactly the way YOU remember and love it? This is the “true test” I propose.

  10. Speculative says:

    ^ *shouldn’t jeopardize financial support of students at Ohio State

  11. Remy says:

    19 at OSU, 12 as assistant director and 2 as head director, and he can’t even send a statement to his members to cease distributing papers that glorify calling women sl*ts wh*res and how they needed to be penetrated as much as possible. He knew of it and thought it had just gone away?

    He needed to be fired and needs to stay fired. Jon Waters IS the culture of The Ohio State Marching Band.

  12. bearing says:

    If Jon Waters is the culture of the OSUMB, then I guess nothing salacious will ever happen again. All the university had to do, all these years, was fire THAT GUY. It’s a good thing they were able to hire him 2 years ago.

  13. Anonymous says:

    President Drake “acted stupidly” in firing Jon Waters.

  14. Manio, an anonymous name says:

    Welcome to OSU, President Drake. By the way, the stuff you stepped in over by the stadium is called poop. Whoever advised you to jump in to this old band culture and start swinging gave you bad advice! Was it a member of the Board of Trustees? I have three degrees in music from OSU. I respect the academics at my alma mater far more than the football culture. But, you do NOT selectively interview students, take their testimonies out of context, and then fire a highly respected leader who is clearly doing a good job….and I say this with little interest in marching bands. That is called a witch hunt., sir. Such “due process” does not belong at an institution that purports to be superior. Shame! The OSU administration has embarrassed all of us.

  15. Remy says:

    Congrats to President Drake for wanting the s*** cleaned out of the stadium rather than stepped in. The reason this crap continues is because no one stand up to it. Waters didn’t, just like predecessors, and the snowball finally impacted.

    ‘Witch hunt’ suggests an actual hunt was needed when it’s become fairly apparently the band rather likes to let it all hang out. Nineteen years of specific OSU experience and incapable of creating change–you could have grown a child and it would be in the band by now. If Waters couldn’t thwart it with that many years experience, game over. In fact, I’d guess it worked against him as being unable to objectively judge the environment.

  16. Remy says:

    Plus why has no one put two and two together yet that the ‘swearing tirade’ that was recorded isn’t about the swearing? Which is why someone else was selected to “to the interview because you had a problem with the God**** media.” What exactly he did during practice to earn this shakedown is completely unclear, nor how it forced a second practice on everyone; somehow that’s curiously unspecified and the error uncorrected. Waters lied about this event to investigators, then again about another effort to erase media exposure of the band’s atmosphere. Fixing the press isn’t fixing the band.

  17. mary says:

    It’s about time somebody sees what Jon is all about!!!?????

  18. mary says:

    Next should be the that crazy football team !!!!

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