Letter to the editor:
Beginning two weeks ago, the university administration began to publicly state that it “stands behind” the marching band culture report released by Ohio State compliance official Chris Glaros and his team. The chairman of the Board of Trustees, Jeffrey Wadsworth, specifically wrote, “We consider the matter closed and we are moving forward as a university.” Unfortunately for Wadsworth, OSU is not exclusively composed of a board of trustees and a president — it is a vibrant community of students, researchers and educators.
As a current OSU student, researcher and educator myself, I write to make it clear that Wadsworth does not speak for me.
To be clear — if the Glaros report was accurate, I would not disagree with the administration’s recent actions. I do not support sexual harassment or assault (though neither do former marching band director Jon Waters nor the members of TBDBITL). I have no issue with our fledgling president’s response to the dishonest report handed to him so early in his tenure. However, the administration has lost the moral high ground with its condescending, tone-deaf response to the significant and deserved backlash.
The Glaros report is a farce. Among the report’s significant failures, which a lack of space prevents me from detailing, several of those interviewed have publicly stated their testimony was ignored or misrepresented. OSU has a term for this. If I received such a report from a student, or if I attempted to publish a manuscript with this type of data manipulation, it would be considered academic misconduct. In undergraduate science, we teach students to critically examine data and we warn against making unsupported claims. Students intuitively grasp these concepts even before they are taught. This makes it all the more embarrassing that the so-called leaders of our great research institution would accept the unsubstantiated conclusions of the Glaros report at face value. In spite of overwhelming evidence, the administration refuses to acknowledge even a single flaw in the Glaros report (though the formation of a second investigation is a tacit admission that the first was flawed). Given that this report directly accuses me and thousands more of facilitating sexual harassment and assault, such a flippant dismissal of truth is unacceptable.
If the administration truly desires to protect and serve students, the firing of Waters and the continued slander of current and former band members directly oppose this outcome. Perhaps the underlying motivation for this charade is to convince the world (and federal government) that OSU takes sexual assault seriously — without the inconvenience of making real university-wide improvements. Sadly, in specific cases of alleged sexual assault, the administration has prevented true justice both for the accused and accuser by circumventing the legal system and the due process it guarantees.
If your only source of information is taking this report at face value, then please consider the foundation on which you have built your opinion. At best, you have read a twisted interpretation of someone else’s firsthand account. If you honestly desire truth, and not just righteous posturing, consider communicating with the thousands of current and former band members who will happily share their firsthand experience.
If you are interested in specific ways to stand with us, you can start at westandwithjonwaters.com. Even if you don’t personally know Waters, you might be dissatisfied with the mishandling of this situation. Please share these feelings with the administration and those in your community. If you are a donor, consider redirecting funds from OSU to other important causes. Many worthy foundations directly support cutting-edge research or student scholarships without going to the OSU general fund. If you make this choice, be sure to let the university know exactly why.
I invite the administration and OSU community to communicate with me regarding these issues. Let me describe the true culture of TBDBITL. Let me share the ways I have personally seen OSU fail to protect and serve students — including survivors of sexual assault. The time has come to stop posturing and to treat students with respect. The process of “moving forward” will begin when the administration takes the necessary steps to do so, beginning with an apology and an open dialogue.
Jonathan W. Picking
Graduate teaching associate, Ohio State
B.S., M.S., Ohio State
TBDBITL, T-row 2005-08
Assistant and head squad leader, 2007 and 2008, respectively