After weeks of back-and-forth allegations between Ohio State and ousted marching band director Jonathan Waters, there seems to be disagreement about how hard the university pushed to change a “sexualized” culture within the band prior to Waters’ firing.
For one, records and interviews indicate former Title IX coordinator Andrea Goldblum and compliance chief Gates Garrity-Rokous didn’t agree on what actually happened during a meeting they had with Waters to address a sexual harassment complaint within the band.
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.
Garrity-Rokous, Goldblum — who resigned in December — and Waters met in spring 2013 after allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct in the band surfaced. While all parties have since agreed on what spurred that meeting, each seems to have a different perspective on what actually happened when they were together.
The meeting was scheduled to ensure Waters understood his Title IX responsibilities in light of an allegation of sexual misconduct within the OSU Athletic Band, Garrity-Rokous said in a statement emailed to The Lantern Wednesday by OSU spokesman Chris Davey. Garrity-Rokous said he was at the meeting to ensure Waters understood he had to listen to Goldblum’s direction.
“The very purpose of the meeting was to support Ms. Goldblum, as the Title IX coordinator, in ensuring that Title IX requirements were followed,” Garrity-Rokous said.
Goldblum, however, said Garrity-Rokous constantly spoke over her during the meeting, preventing any real Title IX progress from happening. That kind of behavior was common for Garrity-Rokous, she said.
“I started to ask questions to get down into figuring out what had happened from their (band director’s) perspective, why it had happened and to start investigating. That’s why I was there,” Goldblum told The Lantern. “Gates just spoke over me and wouldn’t allow me to continue.”
After the meeting, Goldblum said Garrity-Rokous spoke down to her and told her she had been too aggressive.
“Gates said to me in a very condescending tone, ‘Andrea, you’ve never been a federal prosecutor like I was, so you don’t understand how to do these things,’” she said.
But Garrity-Rokous said those weren’t his words.
“I did not use the quoted language, and my tone was consistent with my intent to help her improve her effectiveness in her new role,” he said.
And Waters said Tuesday he remembered the meeting as more of a meet-and-greet with Garrity-Rokous and Goldblum, rather than a chance to address any major sexual harassment concerns.
“The meeting with Gates, it was like, ‘We’re here, we have a compliance office, let us know if you need anything,’” Waters said. “There were no directives given in that meeting, there was no training offer, there was no anything. It was more of just a formal introductory meeting.”
Waters said his interaction with the OSU’s Office of Compliance and Integrity prior to his firing 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.”
Garrity-Rokous said Waters never informed the compliance office of any instances of the band’s sexualized culture that were found in the OSU investigation the following year. That investigation report was what led to his firing July 24, and it listed examples of issues like sexualized nicknames, mistreatment of younger band members and inappropriate behavior on band buses.
Goldblum said instances like the meeting with Waters and other internal problems within the Office of Compliance and Integrity — where her position was based — prevented her from executing proper Title IX reform within the band and across the university.
Earlier this year, a third-party attorney was assigned by the Ohio Attorney General’s Office to investigate complaints of gender and disability discrimination made by Goldblum. An investigative report based on those complaints concluded there was insufficient evidence to support Goldblum’s claims. The Lantern obtained that investigation report Wednesday to fill a public records request filed Monday.
The Lantern has not received Garrity-Rokous’ employment file after initially requesting it on Aug. 14 or Goldblum’s employment file after requesting it Friday.
Waters was fired because the report found he was aware, or reasonably should have been aware, of that culture but didn’t do enough to change it.
This is part two of a two-part series The Lantern is running about how the band investigation was handled and how the Office of Compliance and Integrity operates.