Letter to the editor:
I write to you regarding the recent events surrounding the dismissal of The Ohio State University Marching Band director Jon Waters. As a lifelong Ohio resident, Ohio State alumnus, lifetime member of The Ohio State Alumni Association and proud Buckeye, I am offended, embarrassed and deeply disappointed by President Michael Drake’s handling of this entire matter. By firing Jon Waters, he has not only not fixed or even addressed the (yet to be publicly substantiated) problems of “sexualized culture” in the band, he has single-handedly introduced controversy and division where before there was none.
In what can only have been intended as an attempt to avoid a national news story, Drake clearly acted in haste by firing Waters without a thorough investigation and accounting of all the relevant facts. In the face of recent revelations about inaccuracies and omissions in the Glaros Report, his further refusal to admit his mistake only serves to diminish his stature and that of our great university. (Editor’s note: Some have called the report of the OSU investigation into the marching band culture the “Glaros Report,” because Chris Glaros was the OSU compliance official who oversaw the investigation.)
There are likely problems of culture in the marching band that must be addressed. Jon Waters is beloved by many and has done far more good than harm for our university and — more importantly — for our students. Drake acted hastily in an attempt to take the easy way out. None of these facts is easily disputed. With that in mind, I am not surprised that university officials have been relatively quiet in the weeks since July 24. After all, what could they say that would not merely add fuel to the fire?
But what really does surprise me is the apparent lack of concern among the so-called Buckeye faithful. There are roughly half a million Ohio State alumni around the world. Add to that the network of Ohio State sports fans and surely that number reaches the millions. Why haven’t they spoken up? On Twitter, @Buckeye_Nation has 152,000 followers, while @WeStandWithJon has only 579. Is it that our fellow Buckeyes are apathetic or that they just don’t know what’s going on? (Editor’s note: Follower counts were as of Wednesday afternoon.)
In Columbus last week, Drake appeared at the weekly Columbus Metropolitan Club forum and luncheon to speak before a crowd of several hundred community leaders. Outside, a group of Waters’ supporters registering barely in the double digits was on hand to show its support for Jon Waters. In downtown Columbus, not three miles from the main campus, we could not muster more voices than those a few devoted individuals?
What Drake did was wrong, Waters got a raw deal, and every single one of those Buckeye faithful around the world needs to know about it. And if they already know about it, they need to speak up.
I’m asking your readers to please, please help to get the word out: Voice your support on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and anywhere else you can using the hashtag #WeStandWithJonWaters. Better yet, write a letter to the Board of Trustees and tell them that you think Michael Drake made a terrible mistake.
The phrase “our honor defend, we will fight till the end” may never before have had such urgency.
The Ohio State University
Class of 1998