The Ohio State University has fired the head of the Best Damn Band in the Land. A two-month investigation regarding allegations of sexual harassment has resulted in the firing of Jonathan Waters, the director of its marching band. The Columbus Dispatch reports that the school is also expanding an internal investigation that uncovered a deep culture of sexualization among students that reportedly has existed for years.
Examples of abuse include an annual midnight band practice at Ohio Stadium in which men and women were expected to march wearing only their underwear. In one recent year, a student suffered alcohol poisoning at the practice. Students led the rehearsal, but staff members, including Waters, were there, too.
Some other traditions: All new band members, or “rookies,” were given nicknames, many of which were sexually explicit. Rookies were forced to perform “tricks” on command. In one case, a female student was told to imitate a sexual act on the laps of other band members, including her brother.
Additional findings include an “unofficial songbook” that was a part of the evidence that investigators provided to university leaders which included raunchy lyrics set to school songs at other schools. Waters reportedly told the office investigating him that he had taken steps to curb some of the sexualized and inappropriate traditions, such as asking band members to cancel the much-discussed midnight underwear practice.
Like many other investigations of this nature, it appears that there have been longstanding complaints by students that were largely ignored on account of such high-valued ideals like “hazing culture” and “tradition.”