The director of the Ohio State University marching band has been fired following a disturbing report that he allowed and oversaw a deep-seated culture of sexual harassment during his decade leading the band, The Columbus Dispatch reports.
The report from the university’s office of compliance and integrity — released this week following a two-month investigation and obtained by The Dispatch — details a number of sexualized marching band traditions that were often forced upon new members. OSU band director Jonathon Waters knew or should have known about these traditions, according to the report, such as an annual midnight band practice during which members wore only underwear and used offensive nicknames given to “rookie” members.
The Dispatch reports that the investigation was triggered following a parent’s complaint. According to the report, “the Marching Band’s culture facilitated acts of sexual harassment under both university policy and Title IX, creating a hostile environment for students.”
Waters’ Ohio-based lawyer David Axelrod gave this statement to the Disptach: “Jonathan tried as hard as he could within the constraints imposed upon him to change that culture. He did his absolute best.”
OSU marching band is known as the “Best Damn Band In The Land” and is considered to be one of the most prominent collegiate marching bands. Several of their routines — including this tribute to Michael Jackson — went viral during the 2013 football season.
Several of the marching band’s traditions stemmed from offensive, often sexualized, nicknames given to new “rookie” members, according to the investigation. Nicknames given to rookies mentioned in the report include “Twinkle Dick,” “Jizzy,” and “Jewoobs (given to a Jewish student with large breasts).”
The report states that rookies would often learn tricks associated with their nicknames. Here are some examples:
- “A female student sitting on laps and pretending to orgasm. This included her sitting on her younger brother’s lap and pretending to orgasm on ‘make the Band night.’ Her nickname was ‘Squirt.'”
- “Two females rubbing their chests together. Their nicknames were ‘Jewoobs’ and ‘Tiggles.'”
- “A male student scooting across the floor on his hindquarters. His nickname was ‘Taint Brush.'”
- “A male student stamping other students’ foreheads with a penis stamp. His nickname was ‘Mushroom Stamp.'”
Another major tradition — which Waters reportedly ended this year — was “Midnight Ramp,” where marching band members would march into the OSU stadium at midnight wearing only their underwear. While not every student participated in the midnight march, the report notes that some band members would march naked or go to Victoria’s Secret beforehand to purchase proper underwear.
Alcohol was also reportedly a significant aspect of OSU marching band culture, with one student suffering alcohol poising a few years ago at Midnight March. According to the report, one student “described her first year in the Marching Band as ‘culture shock’ and cited alcohol consumption at away football games as an example. Several students stated that alcohol use and abuse is a large part of the Marching Band’s culture.”
There were also several allegations specifically against Waters, such as that he texted dirty limericks to one bandleader and ignored a female student’s complaints that she was uncomfortable changing with male students on the bus to away games. Waters denied both allegations.
We reached out to Waters’ lawyer for further comment and will update this post if we hear back.
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