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Letter to the editor: Ohio State Marching Band investigation report a farce

August 26, 2014

picking.2@osu.edu

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
picking.2@osu.edu


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Comments (14)

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  1. Dan Durham says:

    Well stated, Jonathan. I do not understand how OSU Administration can simply ‘move forward’ after it unfairly labeled and slandered a group of its own students, alumni, and highly evaluated leader.
    To now state that Jon Water’s was untruthful and uncooperative does not make sense. This statement is coming from the same leaders who support the truthful Glaro’s Report?
    Please OSU Administration, if anything, listen to your own students. They deserve the truth and equal due process.

  2. Buckeye in the West says:

    As the Ohio State Administration feels that money, above everything else, is important; alumni and friends are speaking with keeping their pocketbooks closed. One alumnus, is on record of redirecting $150 million. It is obvious, to this alumnus, that this so called “report” was a farce of epic proportions.

    To put things right, Jon Waters need to be reinstated, the Office of Compliance needs a house cleaning, the Board of Trustees need to be replaced, the new President, who should know better, offer his resignation and the administration offer a genuine apology to its students, alumni, band members, band alumni and those people who day to day toil for Ohio State.

    Tomorrow and Friday the Board of Trustees meet. Anyone who can should stand outside with “We Stand With Jon Waters” signs and wear T-shirts. Those who can get into the meeting, demand to be heard. And those planning a gift to Ohio State, hold onto it, until these wrongs are righted. Finally, if the Board of Trustees ignore the growing dissent, then when Oho State plays Virginia Tech, next Saturday night, chant “We Stand with Jon Waters” so loud. throughout the game, that it will be heard on the national TV broadcast.

  3. 1977 Buckeye in NJ says:

    As Kelly Johnson once said Keep It Simple Stupid. The OSU Administration and the Board of Trustees has made a horrid mistake in the case of Jon Waters. It’s time to repair the damage and let our great institutions (OSU and TBDBITL) move on. Failure to do so will impact indelibly impact OSU’s standing with alumni and those whom contribute to this great institution.

  4. Lawrence Cohen says:

    Jonathan. That is a great letter. The one thing I would add is the incredible amount of hearsay relied on in Glaros’ conclusions. In the report there is a lot of this person told me they saw or heard something. Instead of finding out who told the witness they heard or saw something and interviewing that person the investigators took what was said as the truth. Something that would never be permitted in a legal proceeding.

  5. Dana J. Smith says:

    Jonathan, Well done! You have captured the essence of the real issue. Thank you!

  6. Lynn Cohen says:

    Thank you Jonathan Picking. I have personally been in charge of a Title IX investigation at a school with .5% (1/2 of one percent) of the students at tOSU and we interviewed more witnesses than Glaros did – twice as many! And we listened to the witnesses including when they reported their experience was totally different than the accuser’s experience! Not to deny the accuser his/her experience but to fully investigate the depth of the problem and the culture of our campus. Nine people out of 4000+ do not represent a culture – a good or bad culture! Clearly Glaros and team did not get enough evidence to support their foregone conclusion so they twisted and/or left out all witness statements that experienced Jon as the leader he was who never tolerated inappropriate behavior and took action immediately with any and all issues. Then in order to get the media sound bite and jaw dropping effect from the average bystander that they needed to support their outrageous decision – they disseminated to the national media an underground songbook that had not seen daylight since 2007 – five years before Jon Waters was director!

  7. JJ says:

    Your reasoning is alarmingly fallacious, even ignoring the specious ‘academic misconduct’ argument. I’ll concede it’s expertly written, but it is entirely an appeal to emotion, using inflammatory language to get the reader to side with you. I get that the report is a farce, misconduct, slander, a charade, twisted, sad, posturing, condescending, and tone-deaf. A full page and a half of criticism, backed up by failures “space prevents [you] from detailing”. The only concrete argument I see you offering is “several of those interviewed have publicly stated their testimony was ignored or misrepresented”. This is equivalent to criticizing a criminal investigation because the police ignored the suspect’s mother’s assertions that the suspect “was a good boy”. The goal of the investigation was not to establish Waters’ character. It was not to holistically evaluate the band’s temperament. Undoubtedly, the majority of the band did _not_ feel harassed; that is entirely irrelevant to an investigation into whether or not specific people _did_ feel harassed. The foundation of your whole letter is entirely without merit.

    Truthfully, I don’t care about this matter in the slightest. But, if you want to make someone care, sound reasoning is a good place to start. I haven’t seen much of it on either side of the debate.

  8. John L says:

    JJ says:
    August 27, 2014 at 7:37 pm

    “The only concrete argument I see you offering is “several of those interviewed have publicly stated their testimony was ignored or misrepresented”. This is equivalent to criticizing a criminal investigation because the police ignored the suspect’s mother’s assertions that the suspect “was a good boy”.”

    ———–

    No – it’s not in any way equivalent to your analogy. Speaking of logical fallacies, this is referred to as a straw man.

    If you do want a valid analogy, it’s closer to criticizing a criminal investigation because 3 of the 4 witnesses the police interviewed spoke out publicly that the police straight-up lied about what they said in the interview. Oh, and the police refuse to release transcripts of the interviews, so you just have to take them at their word. And as more data came out, they changed the crime under investigation from murder to tax fraud, while using the same witness interviews as evidence. And the two major pieces of written evidence the police used are dated six years before the crime was allegedly committed, but were put forth as being recent. Oh, and the disavowed witness statements and the debunked documents were literally the ONLY pieces of evidence the police had. And the alleged perpetrator asked for constitutionally afforded due process, but was refused by the police. Yeah, kind of like that.

  9. Classof2000 says:

    But JJ. . .while individuals may feel harassed, that doesn’t mean you fire the director.

  10. Jonathan Picking says:

    JJ – my 1800 was cut to 700. Hence you have my contact info. I’d love to buy you a beer and tell you specifics. I’ll start by saying that the report literally accuses all of us of facilitating sexual assault. This is completely false and I take issue with it.

  11. JJ says:

    Fair enough John and Jonathan, I regret my criticisms. I’m told the report is biased and unfair and full of falsities, so I haven’t read it. I’m told the band members are sex crazed, incest promoting deviants, so I haven’t listened. My inability to find wholly unbiased information has been frustrating. Lashing out at your earnest appeal was an irrational way to address that. I seem to have expected you to summarize the report, when I could have read it myself. Don’t take my ignorance to heart.

  12. Anonymous says:

    JJ says:
    August 27, 2014 at 10:45 pm

    “Fair enough John and Jonathan, I regret my criticisms. I’m told the report is biased and unfair and full of falsities, so I haven’t read it. I’m told the band members are sex crazed, incest promoting deviants, so I haven’t listened. My inability to find wholly unbiased information has been frustrating. Lashing out at your earnest appeal was an irrational way to address that. I seem to have expected you to summarize the report, when I could have read it myself. Don’t take my ignorance to heart.”

    This is honestly the most reasonable, level-headed response to an online discussion I think I’ve ever seen.

  13. Keith says:

    Anonymous says:
    August 27, 2014 at 11:56 pm
    JJ says:
    August 27, 2014 at 10:45 pm

    “Fair enough John and Jonathan, I regret my criticisms. I’m told the report is biased and unfair and full of falsities, so I haven’t read it. I’m told the band members are sex crazed, incest promoting deviants, so I haven’t listened. My inability to find wholly unbiased information has been frustrating. Lashing out at your earnest appeal was an irrational way to address that. I seem to have expected you to summarize the report, when I could have read it myself. Don’t take my ignorance to heart.”

    This is honestly the most reasonable, level-headed response to an online discussion I think I’ve ever seen.

    Agreed!!! Classy conversation!

  14. Brent says:

    Some people just can’t admit they made a mistake! Civil Action is required in this case. To bad the University has nearly unlimited funds to squash the former band leader. But the compliance officer who resigned could be a marvelous witness for the no longer band director.

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