I was a sousaphone player in the OSUMB from 1993-1997. I came into the band as a pretty naive kid, into a culture rooted in the military that was by anyone’s account like any athletic team. The long history about where exactly the band belonged - in the Music School or in the Athletic Department - attests to this. It was not a classroom as much as a team.
Reading the report in the context of an athletic team or military unit can bring some perspective, helping to compare apples to apples. It doesn’t change the facts. But it tempers one’s rush to judgment.
Nevertheless, even among the athletic and military culture, I was never forced or required to engage in any behavior that I objected to. And I never suspected that my spot was in jeopardy if I refused. In truth, I was never even in a position to “refuse” publicly. I was protected - warned and sheltered by men and women who were like big brothers and sisters.
I became a Christian during my junior year at OSU - I was not one coming in - and am a missionary today. My own mores and sensitivities only increased during that time. But I suppose, like chaplains in the military, I felt that I would work toward the betterment of the organization from within - I had and still have much respect for TBDBITL - and that any other means would actually be destructive to the organization I had become so fond of and one that had given me so much.
Unfortunately, this is what President Drake’s decision is doing.
Have the full extent of the changes come too slowly? Admittedly, yes. I was in the band 16 years ago. Changes have come. But a wholesale overnight change of the culture at the moment Jon Waters became director would have been an impossible task. Jon, as a man who was actually moving the band in the right direction, has been publicly embarrassed, shamed, and blackballed, yet he was uniquely the person to do the very thing the university desires.
I’m deeply grieved because there was a better possible outcome in all of this, a more redeemed outcome: a cleaned-up culture with the aid of the university, with Jon Waters still at the helm, and relationships restored. Instead, there's been deep embarrassment and destruction all the way around.
Reasonable possible outcomes could have included a Title IX compliance officer permanently attached to the band, an official visit from the President of the university and legal affairs warning the band of the pending consequences for Jon Waters, the associate staff members, and students themselves, along with a presidential (and parental) embrace that said, "This is unacceptable but we’ll move forward together for your good and ours."
We unfortunately don’t live in a world where wisdom can prevail, but in a litigious media saturated one that salivates on the salacious. The university has fed that hunger, hypocritically covered themselves (having turned a blind eye for decades - university police and stadium staff have been complicit in “midnight ramp” which bears the remarkable similarity of being as benign as jumping in mirror lake), and tarnished a man and his career.
All other athletic teams and marching bands across the country are now on notice. You get a do-over. It's nothing to laugh or joke about. You get a chance to clean things up. I wish Jon Waters had that chance. Don't waste it.