Letter to the editor:
As a proud Buckeye and someone with an extreme no-tolerance policy on sexual harassment, I was automatically torn between embarrassment and pride when the news broke of Jonathan Waters’ termination. Embarrassment that an organization our Buckeyes take such pride in – our band – was making headlines for all of the wrong reasons, and pride that our university seemed to finally be championing a stricter stance toward Title IX infractions.
As time has set in and students started speaking out, I have found myself questioning whether or not this was the way to go about bringing change to the culture of sexual harassment within the band and the university as a whole. It seems to me that the culture that Jonathan Waters was fired for was not a product of his actions or even inaction. That culture is a product of an entire university of inaction, looking for a scapegoat in one man.
The issue we should focus our attention towards as we move forward as a community is not Jonathan Waters. Placing all of the blame on one man and calling it a day is not productive to the cause – in fact, it only creates outrage that positions thousands of Buckeyes against the cause. Making significant strides to change the culture in not just the band, but Ohio State as a whole, means taking responsibility on several levels of administration and teaching those in power the language they need to understand why the culture is wrong and how to address it. Give people like Jonathan Waters the tools to change the culture before you blame them for their inability to do so.
Change starts from the top. Maybe if OSU’s administration wants to promote actual change (as it should), officials should be shifting their gaze towards the incredible number of sexual assault survivors on campus who feel failed by their university, policies that lack power to prevent or punish instances of harassment and assault and training programs that can prevent harassment and assault. By all means, make a change. Just make the right one.
Class of 2012
Resident adviser/resident manager, Baker Hall West 2009-12