The self-proclaimed “Best Damn Band in the Land” is forced to march on without director Jonathan Waters in the unofficial season kickoff with the Columbus Symphony. The Ohio State University band’s ex-director is currently under investigation after allegations revealing the band’s “sexualized” culture, including rituals that forced students to march in their underwear, be called sexually explicit nicknames and perform sexual skits—all while Waters turned a blind eye.
Waters, who has led the 225-member band for the past two years and has directed some impressive half-time shows, including one that landed the Buckeyes a spot in an Apple commercial, has been fired for his involvement in the risqué tradition. The accusations were raised by a concerned parent after learning that band mates were sexualized and made to swear secrecy oaths. A 23-page report details the findings of the investigation, which reveals an “annual tradition of members marching across the field in their underwear under the supervision of the Marching Band directors and staff, including Jonathan Waters.”
While many are relieved the director has been fired from his position, Buckeye band mates from years past feel sympathy for the director that has to be punished for rituals that have been going on for decades.
“This has been going on. Waters did not start this—it’s a culture that’s been going on for a long time under everybody,” Diana Gilmore, a member of the band in the 1970s, told the Columbus Dispatch.
Ohio State’s new President Michael Drake told ABC, “This is 2014, and we respect our students as young adults. We respect women, and we respect all the different people who work with us. We respect diversity. We just had to make a square-wave change between this report, which was unacceptable, and the future, which we start today.” He continues in a statement to say, “Nothing is more important than the safety of our students.”
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