Nearly a month after former Ohio State Marching Band director Jonathan Waters was fired amid a wave of controversy, some band members and one interim director have said they expect the band to persevere with or without Waters.
“There are going to be challenges, (Waters) was a friend, but we have a great staff to support us, and we have a duty to be the best damn band in the land, and we’re still going to have great shows,” said David Pettit, a fifth-year piano performance major and the marching band’s drum major.
Waters was fired July 24 after a two-month OSU investigation into a complaint from a band member’s parent found “serious cultural issues and an environment conducive to sexual harassment within the marching band,” according to an OSU statement. It was found that Waters was either aware of, or reasonably should have been aware of, that culture, but didn’t do enough to address it.
“We definitely want to clear our reputations, because we felt the report was very one-sided and, frankly, taken out of context,” Pettit said. “What I want the public to know is that we’re good people, and we’re college students — we’re going to make mistakes, but every day, we’re trying to better people.”
Pettit was one of 10 band-affiliated people made available to the media last week by the university. Others included eight current band members and one interim director.
OSU spokesman Gary Lewis said the event was organized by members of the band.
John Joyce, a recent band alumnus, is starting his fifth year with the band as continued education this fall. He said he thinks the report that led to Waters’ termination was faulty but trusts in the band’s leadership in moving on.
“I think, right now, we’re under very able leadership — I don’t think there’s a better group of people who could lead the band through this. I think you’re still going to see the great halftime shows that you expect of the band this season,” Joyce said.
OSU named two interim directors for the 2014-15 season. University Bands director Russel Mikkelson and associate director Scott Jones will lead the band until a permanent director is chosen.
“I’m deeply confident in the show design staff we have,” Jones said Thursday. “Christopher Hoch, who is our associate director of marching and athletic bands here at Ohio State, is a very seasoned and expert drill designer. Part of developing shows for this year’s band is getting to know them (band members), getting to know their strengths and then figuring how we can put them forward with their very best attributes in front of a stadium full of very enthusiastic football fans.”
Nathan MacMaster, assistant drum major and a public affairs graduate student, said he’d like to see Waters reinstated but has confidence in the band’s ability regardless of what happens.
“I have a tremendous amount of respect for (Waters). He’s been such a positive influence on my life, and he’s taught me so many great values — he’s one of my greatest mentors,” MacMaster said. “I really do believe that things will right themselves one way or another.”
Since his dismissal, Waters and his attorney have made multiple public appearances and submitted a letter asking for OSU to consider rehiring him. OSU President Michael Drake and the Board of Trustees, however, have declined to reconsider his case.
Kyle Kuebler, a fourth-year in astronomy, made the band for the first time this year with his twin brother Ryan, a fourth-year in communication.
Both said they trust in the band’s ability to move forward, even though they were shocked when Waters was terminated.
“I look forward to being on the field and being in the band and having some of the best times of my life with the marching band that I love,” Kyle Kuebler said.
“We’re going to take everything as nothing happened,” Ryan Kuebler said.
The search process for a new director is currently under way.
A search committee of students, faculty, staff and alumni will be brought together “in coming weeks” with the new director expected to be named within four to six months, according to an OSU press release.
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