Roughly a month after Ohio State’s marching band director was fired for not doing enough to change a “sexualized culture” within the band, a former OSU Title IX coordinator came forward to say that the university has fallen short on its end as well.
Andrea Goldblum served as OSU’s Title IX coordinator from April 2013 until resigning in December. She came to OSU in 2005 as the director of student conduct.
She said she chose to leave because of internal problems with the Office of Compliance and Integrity, where her position was based. Goldblum said she felt the office wasn’t doing enough to support her in a way that fulfilled the university’s obligations to Title IX. Title IX says schools that receive federal funding can’t discriminate based on sex.
Former marching band director Jonathan Waters was fired July 24 after a two-month investigation into the marching band found a culture conducive to sexual harassment. It was determined Waters was aware or reasonably should have been aware of that culture but didn’t do enough to change it.
Goldblum spoke with The Lantern about the office’s handling of that investigation as well as a meeting with her, Waters and vice president and chief compliance officer of the Office of Compliance and Integrity, Gates Garrity-Rokous. She said things could have ended differently if Garrity-Rokous had let her do her job during that meeting.
“If somebody doesn’t stand up and say something, nothing’s going to change,” Goldblum said. “My interactions with the university thus far, it’s been about protecting people in power.”
In particular, Goldblum recalled a meeting with Waters that the former director said Tuesday he also remembers. But while Goldblum saw it as an opportunity to tackle Title IX issues, Waters said it was essentially a formality.
Later, Garrity-Rokous was not named among those who supervised the report that led to Waters’ dismissal, despite the fact that it was conducted by his office. When asked what role he played in the investigation, he said he “oversaw it” in responses emailed to The Lantern on Tuesday through OSU spokesman Chris Davey.
Garrity-Rokous oversees all compliance activity across the university and reports to senior management and the OSU Board of Trustees, according to the compliance office’s website. His experience in Title IX mostly comes from experience in general civil rights law, he said, as Title IX was an amendment to the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
“I have worked fairly extensively with these non-discrimination statutes, as a compliance officer, as a compliance attorney, and as a federal prosecutor,” Garrity-Rokous said in the responses through Davey.
Goldblum said she filed a complaint with the university about Garrity-Rokous earlier this year. The Lantern did not immediately receive that report after filing a public records request for it Monday. It has also not received Garrity-Rokous’ employment file after initially requesting it on Aug. 14 or Goldblum’s employment file after requesting it Friday.
Goldblum was not part of the investigation that led to the termination of Waters. The investigation took place after she resigned. She said, however, the probe could have been avoided if Garrity-Rokous had let her intervene earlier.
Still, she said the investigation’s conclusion that the band contained a sexualized culture was accurate based on what she had experienced and heard.
Goldblum said the investigation could have been conducted in a more “defensible” way.
Goldblum also said Garrity-Rokous stood in the way of starting real progress on Title IX issues within the band, as he sometimes criticized her for being “too aggressive” with sexual harassment issues, including those within the marching band, she said.
In one instance, Goldblum said she and Garrity-Rokous met with Waters to discuss sexual harassment issues and the marching band shortly after she started as the Title IX coordinator in 2013. She said Garrity-Rokous dominated the conversation.
Waters said Tuesday he remembered that meeting, which was the only time he ever interacted with Garrity-Rokous, as more of a meet-and-greet with Garrity-Rokous and Goldblum.
“The meeting with Gates, it was like, ‘We’re here, we have a compliance office, let us know if you need anything,’” Waters said. “There were no directives given in that meeting, there was no training offer, there was no anything. It was more of just a formal introductory meeting.”
Waters said his interaction with the OSU’s Office of Compliance and Integrity prior to his firing was “minimal” with little guidance.
“If I wanted training for the band, I sought it. If I wanted training for the leaders, I sought it. If I wanted to know who to report an issue to, I sought it. No one from compliance taught me how to do these things,” Waters said. “We were left to fend for ourselves with the rules and regulations the compliance office had.”
But despite her complaints about the compliance office, Goldblum said there are people doing quality work on Title IX issues across campus.
“There are some really, really good people on the ground working on sexual violence issues and they’re really good and they are really caring and they do it because it’s right for the students and because it’s right for the community,” she said.
This is part one of a two-part series The Lantern is running about how the band investigation was handled and how the Office of Compliance and Integrity operates.