My name is Mark Greenburg and I am the President of Tresóna. I have come to know Jon Waters in a work capacity, and he is someone I admire and someone I am lucky enough to call a friend. In fact, one of the great things about working with Jon was that he wanted to make sure that the opportunities that were offered to his band were opportunities that would be offered to all of the bands, or he would not even consider them. I find his generosity of spirit and his genuine nature to be exemplary.
One of the great things about growing up in the Watergate generation is that we have learned to question what we are being told, even when what we are being told is being told to us by people in positions of authority. Tresóna’s legal department reviewed the official video featuring the new President of The Ohio State University and listened to what he had to say about Jon Waters and his stewardship of The Ohio State University Marching Band. We then read, in great detail, the report that the University posted on their website about this whole affair. We have also listened to a surreptitiously made tape recording of Jon disciplining an adult student (over the age of 18).
Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I was accepted to matriculate at the Ohio State University Law School and I chose not to do this, and matriculated to another school. I would also like to disclose that based upon all the evidence that is out in the open, Tresóna stands with Jon Waters and that the many executives in the music publishing industry with whom I have spoken to are simply astonished by the apparent rush-to-judgment in this matter. For them, like I, who have come to know Jon, we believe that there is no possible way Jon contributed to or supported a “sexualized” atmosphere in The Band.
I encourage everyone in the Marching Band community to read the University’s report, which is filled with innuendo from a few unnamed student witnesses who were hand picked by the parent who complained to the university, and the infantile and perhaps salacious details of the songbook, a songbook written in the 60’s and passed down amongst the students, but not by The Band or Jon Waters or Chris Hoch.
Jon has also been accused of witnessing and doing nothing about the notorious “ramp walk”. Apparently this is some ridiculous event where the kids show up late at night and parade around in their underwear on the football field. This begs the question of who opened up the stadium late at night to let the kids in. I suppose that for some this juvenile procession in one’s underwear is in poor taste, but the fact of the matter is that Jon, in his first year at the helm of The Band, went to the ramp walk with his staff to witness what was going on, and then abolished the practice for the coming year.
Jon did not eliminate or order the students to stop using nicknames. How does one do that by the way? I have three kids, the oldest named Mark, and when people would call my house when he was younger, my younger sons would inquire, “Do you want to speak to small Mark or Big-fat Mark?” I couldn’t even stop that from happening and I had a pretty good size advantage at the time. My mother refers to me as “Shamoo” in front of many people. Maybe I will tell her, in her 84th year, to knock it off, or else... Maybe I will write my kids out of my will.
Lastly, Jon is apparently not a master of the Title IX laws of the United States, laws that are so intricate that most Universities have Title IX compliance departments, filled with attorneys, to deal with this act.
What is it that The University President did not tell us? The University should be an arbiter of fairness and due process, and the music publishing executives with whom we work and who know Jon are looking very carefully at this and questioning whether they want to be supportive of a program where the cornerstones of our democratic process have been grossly overlooked.
I cannot say this enough: Tresóna believes there is absolutely no place for a hostile work or study environment for any student, male or female. However, there is nothing in the report other than the uncorroborated testimony of 2 unnamed students and a clearly disgruntled former trainer for the band who apparently and according to the report wanted to scream because she heard the proper words for the human anatomy too much for her personal taste (while riding on the band bus returning from games). Maybe this trainer asked Jon for a raise and the band turned her down and she was angry at that decision? The point is that none of us knows why these five people, organized and selected by the complaining parent, came forward, because Jon was not allowed to ask. Furthermore, to hold Jon responsible for the behavior of students over the age of consent for giving each other nicknames, for students drinking too much, or for students consuming too many drugs, while not in his presence, seems to be ridiculous and would require a type of monitoring that was absent in Russia during the heyday of the Soviet Union. It would literally not be possible.
The University’s report clearly indicates that Jon had been reforming the behavior of the band, as his staff has attested to this in the report. However, even if that were not the case, in America, there is such a thing as due process, and there is no evidence against Jon where Jon was allowed to question the integrity of those making the accusations about his leadership.
I remember, not too long ago, the accusations that were made against members of the Duke lacrosse team by another authority figure, the District Attorney of Durham County, Mike Nifong. Mr. Nifong’s false rush to judgment led to the destruction of the lives of the students, all of whom filed claims against Duke University and all of whom have been paid handsomely for their ill treatment by Duke University. As for Mr. Nifong, who was disbarred and disgraced for bringing forward a claim that he knew was false, he has been disbarred, and the last time he spoke to anyone, it was to ask them if they wanted to supersize their fries.
I think we should hold The Ohio State University to a higher standard and ask their leaders, with grace and humility, to reverse what seems to be a rush-to-judgment against Jon Waters, to champion the democratic values and processes that every University should hold dear, and have a public hearing allowing Jon to defend his name and reputation. And while this proceeding takes place in an orderly fashion, Jon and his staff should be allowed to run The Band, with a Title IX compliance officer in attendance in the band office, and we should all wait until a jury of his peers returns with their judgment. It is only in this way will we know whether there is guilt or innocence, whether the punishment fits the crime or whether there was a rush to judgment as we suspect. That would be a University that I imagine we could all be proud of.