Letter to the editor: Former Ohio State Marching Band director Jonathan Waters entitled to a public hearing
Letter to the editor:
My name is Mark Greenburg and I am the president of Tresóna Multimedia. Tresóna is the largest issuer of custom arrangement licenses on behalf of music publishers in the world. By virtue of the fact that everything the Ohio State Marching Band performs is performed without woodwinds, our firm issues the custom arrangement licenses that the band needs to legally arrange the music that the band plays and performs. These licenses are not compulsory and can be withheld by the music publishing industry for any reason, without cause or explanation. It is in this capacity that I have come to know former band director Jon Waters very well, and before Jon, Dr. Jon Woods.
One of the great things about growing up in the Watergate-generation is that we have learned to question what we are being told, even when what we are being told is being told to us by people in positions of authority. I reviewed the official video featuring the new president of OSU and listened to what he had to say about Jon Waters and his stewardship of the OSU Marching Band. I then read, in great detail, the report that the university posted on its website about this whole affair. I have also listened to a surreptitiously-made tape recording of Jon disciplining a student.
Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I was accepted to matriculate at the OSU law school and I chose not to do this and matriculated to another school. I would also like to disclose that based upon all the evidence that is out in the open, Tresóna stands with Jon Waters and that the many executives in the music publishing industry with whom I have spoken to are simply astonished by the behavior of the university in this matter. For them, like I, who have come to know Jon, we believe that there is no possible way Jon contributed to or supported a “sexualized” atmosphere in the band.
I encourage everyone in the Marching Band community to read the university’s report, which is filled with innuendo, only a few unnamed student witnesses and the infantile and perhaps salacious details of the songbook, a songbook written in the 60s and passed down amongst the students, but not by the band or Jon Waters or associate director Chris Hoch.
Jon has also been accused of witnessing and doing nothing about the notorious “ramp walk.” Apparently this is some ridiculous event where the kids show up late at night and parade around in their underwear on the football field. This begs the question of who opened up the stadium late at night to let the kids in. I suppose that for some, this juvenile procession in underwear is in poor taste, but the fact of the matter is that Jon went to the ramp walk with his staff to witness what was going on, and then abolished the practice.
Jon did not eliminate or order the students to stop using nicknames. How does one do that, by the way? I have three kids, the oldest named Mark, and when people would call my house when he was younger, my younger sons would inquire, “Do you want to speak to small Mark or big, fat Mark?” I couldn’t even stop that from happening and I had a pretty good size advantage at the time. My mother refers to me as “Shamoo.” Maybe I will tell her, in her 84th year, to knock it off or else. Maybe I will write my kids out of my will.
Lastly, Jon is apparently not a master of the Title IX laws of the United States, laws that are so intricate that most universities have Title IX compliance departments, filled with attorneys, to deal with this act.
Since only four current band members were witnesses, one of whom surreptitiously tape recorded Jon Waters when Jon was disciplining him, how is this possible that the university, with 225 marching band members and roughly 250 pep band members only spoke to these four people? What if there are 471 people who want to step forward and say that these four individuals had an axe to grind with Jon, that they are malcontents and biased? The university did not tell us that the parent who came forward organized these individuals and that they came forward as a package, and the university did not avail themselves to the other 471 people standing around who would have most likely provided exculpatory evidence or contradicted the four “witnesses.”
What is it that the university president did not tell us? The university should be an arbiter of fairness and due process, and the music publishing executives with whom I work are looking very carefully at this and questioning whether they want to be part of a process and program where the cornerstones of our democratic process have been grossly overlooked.
Tresóna believes there is no place for a hostile work or study environment for any student, male or female. However, the report includes the testimony of two unnamed students and a clearly disgruntled former employee with the band who apparently and according to the report wanted to scream because she heard words for human anatomy too much for her personal taste while riding on the band bus. Maybe she asked Jon for a raise and the band turned her down and she was angry at that decision? The point is that none of us knows why these four people were interviewed, because Jon was not allowed to ask. Furthermore, to hold Jon responsible for the behavior of adults for giving each other nicknames, for drinking too much or for consuming too many drugs, while not in his presence, even if it were true, seems to be ridiculous. It would not be possible.
The university’s report clearly indicates that Jon had been reforming the behavior of the band, as his staff has attested to this in the report. However, even if that were not the case, in America, there is such a thing as due process, and there is no evidence against Jon where Jon was allowed to question the integrity of those making the accusations about his leadership.
I think we should hold The Ohio State University to a higher standard and ask its leaders, with grace and humility, to reverse this rush to judgment against Jon Waters, to champion the democratic values and processes that the university holds dear and have a public hearing allowing Jon to defend his name and reputation. And while this proceeding takes place in an orderly fashion, Jon and his staff should be allowed to run the band with a Title IX compliance officer in attendance in the band office, and we should all wait until a jury of his peers returns with their judgment. It is only in this way will we know whether there is guilt or innocence, whether the punishment fits the crime or whether there was a rush to judgment as so many of us suspect. That will be a university we can all be proud of.
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