Former Ohio State Marching Band director Jonathan Waters said he still hasn’t decided whether he’ll sue OSU during a Tuesday interview with The Lantern.
He was fired July 24 after a two-month investigation into the band found a culture conducive to sexual harassment. It was determined Waters was aware or reasonably should have been aware of that culture and did not do enough to change it.
His attorney David Axelrod said Waters has acknowledged that he needs to start looking for a new job, but said he hasn’t started yet because he wants his position at OSU back.
Since his termination, many OSU Marching Band members, alumni and others have showed support for the ousted director with numerous letters to the editor, letters to university administration and rallies, among other things. Most call for Waters’ reinstatement.
The student squad leadership of the band from 2012 and 2013 released a statement Tuesday through Axelrod’s office that called the report’s findings “false and misleading” and said the investigation was “severely flawed.”
Another display of support for Waters surfaced Tuesday when a 10-page document of Waters’ attempts to change the band culture was found on the marching band alumni club website. One instance in the report describes how Waters looked down upon mistreatment of new band members.
“We could not publicly (or in front of Jon Waters or any staff) refer to first-year band members as ‘rookies.’ We were required to refer to them as first-years in order to reinforce equality among ranks. Jon stressed that even a reference such as first-years was a form of hazing, and not something that was supported by the OSUMB,” it reads.
Waters said Tuesday afternoon he hadn’t read that report and couldn’t provide direct comment on it. “Without reading it, I’m sure I stand by what they’re saying,” Waters said.
Although Waters has asked the university for his job back, both President Michael Drake and OSU Board of Trustees Chair Jeffrey Wadsworth denied further consideration. If Waters does sue, however, Drake has said the university will be prepared.
Recently, the former OSU Title IX coordinator came out saying the band culture investigation could have been avoided if the Office of Compliance and Integrity had allowed her to intervene sooner. Before his dismissal, Waters said his interaction with the office 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.”
The search process for a new director is currently underway. A search committee of students, faculty, staff and alumni will look for a new director, with that individual expected to be named within four to six months. In the meantime, OSU named two interim directors for the 2014-15 season. University Bands director Russel Mikkelson and associate director Scott Jones will lead the band until a permanent director is chosen.
But for Waters, life isn’t the same without his former students. “I know that every day that goes by, I miss them more and more,” he said.
Currently, a second investigation into the band’s culture is also under way.
That investigation, which is planned to be completed by early October, is being led by former Ohio Attorney General Betty Montgomery and is reporting to Drake and the Board. It will assess the band culture, review OSU administrative processes and oversight and counsel the university on Title IX compliance issues. 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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