Sunday, August 3, 2014

Darrell T. Bunkley

Dr. Drake,

I don't know you, but I look forward to the opportunity to meet you. Allow me to introduce myself: My name is Darrell T. Bunkley, Ph.D. I'm a Black man. I'm a 1990 graduate of The Ohio State University with a double major in Psychology and Political Science. I received my Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Northwestern University in 2002 after interning at Howard University Hospital. While at The Ohio State University I was a National Merit Scholar. I joined Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity. I sang with The Ohio State University Men's Glee Club. I was involved in student government and president of my dorm. I became a member of Alpha Kappa Mu Honor Society. I was a recipient of the Presidential Academic Achievement award. Most importantly to this letter: I was a five year member of The Ohio State University Marching Band and T-Row Squad Leader. I’m also a proud Life Member of The Ohio State University Alumni Association.
Your introduction to me was to send an email to me on July 24, 2014 to tell me a "thorough investigation" (preliminary, at best, in my opinion) had been done that "revealed serious cultural issues and an environment conducive to sexual harassment". Included in your letter was the statement that "Nothing is more important than the safety of our students." and "We expect every member of our community to live up to a common standard of decency and mutual respect and to adhere to university policies." The OSUMB was described by you as a "hostile culture". I can't begin to tell you how wrong your statements are based on my own experiences in TBDBITL. OSUMB was a 100% merit based organization where men and women were treated equally on and off the playing field. So, yes, with their consent, women "rookies' were subject to the same sometimes stupid and inappropriate treatment as consenting male "rookies". And these women (who I will never see as victims) had the same ability to choose to participate in (or not participate in) sexually inappropriate "traditions" left over from the band's all male days. No, I don't imagine that away from the public eye, all marching band members lived up to what you feel is a common standard of decency at all times. I know policies were broken when I was in the band. However, the culture was competitive, not "hostile" and usually as safe (if not safer) as any other group of college students.
With it a foregone conclusion that policies were broken, I'll admit my own guilt in behaving inappropriately at times and contributing to what the investigators called “a culture that facilitated acts of sexual harassment”. I couldn't personally dispute any "findings" of the report as I was not a member of the OSUMB in 2012 or 2013. I did recognize most of the behavior described in the report, to some extent (specifically Midnight Ramp, Nicknames, Rookie Introductions, one Rookie Midterm, one Trip Tic, Songbook, Misconduct on the bus and Changing Clothes on the bus). I don't necessarily agree with how things were interpreted and presented in the report. However, those things existed, in one form or another, from 1986 to 1990.
I would ALMOST be willing to accept the possibility that the recent membership of the band under the leadership of Jon Waters had devolved into what the Daily Caller calls "Filled with Depraved Perverts." who "indulge in devious sexual hazing" or current band members were "horny and depraved" as noted in Deadspin.com. But, I believe in the character of Jon Waters and in the character of the women and men in the current band too much to accept that those are accurate descriptions of the OSUMB in 2012 and 2013. I'm hopeful a full investigation will reveal the truth.
Why do various media outlets including the Columbus Dispatch feel comfortable referring to your students (and ALL past OSUMB members) in this manner? I would point to the pejorative and sensationalized nature of the 23 page report, and in particular, the additional UNNECESSARY inclusion of 69 pages of titillating tidbits in Exhibits A and B as a major cause.
I am writing to point out that the release of the Investigative Report in the manner your office has chosen to do so, is both EXTREMELY IRRESPONSIBLE, and DAMAGING to The Ohio State University Family and, in particular, to past and present OSUMB members. I take issue with the need to present the report to the public in a salacious and sensationalized manner. I don't find it protective of students. In fact, it puts current, past and future students at risk of personal, psychological and/or professional harm, regardless of the findings of the report and any actions the University has taken or decides to take against Jon Waters and/or the students of OSUMB.
Let's talk about Exhibits A and B. Apparently, your office concluded that Exhibits A and B contained things so horrible and disgusting that they MUST be PUBLICLY released (in full) with the report. Perhaps they were included in a sensational attempt to shock the public and justify the other "findings" of the report. I’m sure others have pointed out that the "thorough investigation" needed to interview only NINE hand selected past and present members of an organization that has hundreds (in 2012 and 2013) or thousands (over the years) of members to confirm a "sexualized culture". The implication is that Exhibits A and B unequivocally prove the misogynistic, homophobic, racist, perversion that is the OSUMB "sexualized culture". As a researcher, I was trained to look a little closer.
Exhibit A:
Let me digress for a moment to when I was in the band. I was aware of one, maybe two rows that traditionally handed out a "rookie midterm". (That would involve a total of 28 band members, of those 28, impossible to tell exactly how many were rookies). I may have held one for a minute (when I asked someone from that row to see it), called it "a stupid waste of time on the bus" and handed it back to whoever gave it to me. Again things may have changed since I was in the OSUMB.
In the report, investigators extrapolated that ONE FORMER MEMBER represented the experience of ALL "rookies' in band. There was no mention in the report of the experiences of any of the other eight band members interviewed. Maybe the other eight were not even asked about a midterm. I don't know, I wasn't there and it wasn't reported in the "thorough" findings. However, by simply looking at Exhibit A, I did notice that only one row was mentioned as responsible for creating and distributing the "rookie midterm" that is Exhibit A. The evidence is CLEARLY written on the document itself and states that the rookies of one row (of 14 members) were given the midterm, CLEARLY not every rookie in OSUMB was handed a rookie midterm as the report implies. A balanced and logical conclusion is that a traditional "rookie midterm" was one aspect of that particular row's culture, on one bus trip, not a general aspect of the band as a whole. A major cultural finding from a sample of one.
Additionally, unless Exhibit A was presented electronically or was recreated for the report, it was blank. The report did note it was from 2011. Was the witness asked about how they received the midterm, if they completed (or rejected) the midterm and any repercussions of their choice? Was there any way to determine the level of coercion (if any) involved in 2011? Were any witnesses questioned about the presence or absence of a rookie midterm in 2012, or 2013? I hope the next investigation will answer these vary basic questions. Flawed research practices often garner flawed results.
And now, Exhibit B:
The preface of the 2006 Songbook, that your administration released to the world as a legitimate representation of OSUMB culture, includes CRYSTAL CLEAR indications that attempts had been made in the past to suppress/eliminate the songs and book. Those efforts were thwarted by a student (or group of students) in 2006 attempting a "reincarnation" (the author's own words) of songbook material. Additionally in the preface, it is noted the book was purely comedic in nature. Implied in the preface is that it should remain hidden from faculty. I would imagine it is because such content was prohibited by the staff and would have led to the songbook being taken and/or potential disciplinary action due to its' inappropriateness. Investigators did not agree with the songbook Preface writer that the contents are intentionally shockingly inappropriate for comedic effect. Instead they imply the members of the OSUMB considered it some sort of manual for how to treat each other and sang songs on the bus trips to victimize and haze women in the band.
To me, stating the songbook accurately represents OSUMB "culture" would be like someone finding that the work of Don Rickles, Redd Foxx, John Valby, Andrew "Dice" Clay, Richard Pryor, Howard Stern, and Katt Williams was representative of all American culture, or saying the music of NWA, Snoop Dogg and 2 Live Crew represented Black male culture. You get my point. Again, it is a wild extrapolation from extremely limited evidence. Major findings from tiny sample sizes is the hallmark of poor research. That's my opinion. I apologize for the digression.
Further, the Investigative Report implies that the songbook was "distributed", and the existence of a 2006 version is used as "proof" of distribution. Further, the investigators include the songbook in the findings, despite testimony from MANY witnesses that NO songbook has existed for years. This incorrectly gives the implication that the songbook was regularly "distributed" to the band and fully endorsed by Jon Waters and his staff. In fact, the evidence gives credence to Jon Water's statements acknowledging a history of some objectionable behaviors and traditions being a part of the band and that efforts were being made to improve situations. If the testimony of the witness who provided the songbook was that a songbook was distributed to every member of the band with the knowledge and consent of the directors, (as implied in the report) I will stand corrected.
Additionally, I find putting a full copy of the 2006 songbook in a publically distributed report both pointless and HIGHLY irresponsible. A thorough 23 page report would have been adequate in reporting the summarized 'findings" of investigations into OSUMB culture. Inclusion of Exhibits A and B in the public release of the report was DEFINITELY not protective of band students, past present and future. A more accurate and responsible wording in the report could have been something similar to: "Witnesses stated students sing sexually inappropriate songs on bus trips. Our findings were that songbooks containing misogynistic and alternate sexual lyrics to songs existed in the past and contributed to a culture of singing sexually inappropriate songs on bus trips." The mention of a 2006 songbook, would be more meaningful if the witness stated where, when and how he/she came into possession of it, and his/her knowledge regarding staff awareness of the songbook and/or any repercussions a student might have for being caught in possession of a songbook. Again, the report is lacking in crucial decisional information.
It is my opinion that the irresponsible release of the 2006 songbook has inadvertently legitimized it and your administration has put this material potentially in the hands of ANY PERSON OF ANY AGE WITH ACCESS TO THE INTERNET. I implore you to redact Exhibits A and B. My concern is that others will take that material and use it as a prototype for their own versions of future songbooks (at The Ohio State University or other locations). Please think of high school and college band students across the country who might be enticed by a “TBDBITL Songbook”, and whether your office's actions in providing public access to these documents puts these young people at risk of potentially downloading and misusing Exhibits A and B. Please protect these students and remove them from the publicly accessible version of the Investigative Report.
If you won't redact Exhibits A and B in the protective interest of students, then protect the Ohio State University from potential liability issues. Otherwise, you may want to prepare to face potential future allegations from parents/teachers/music administrators who may claim their children/students were somehow damaged or damaged others as a result of gaining access to Exhibits A and B through your office’s release of this Investigative Report.
That being said, I would like to move forward. I was overjoyed when they announced you would be the next president of The Ohio State University. I consider myself as having a personal interest in your success in this position. I hope you realize my comments are based in a true love for The Ohio State University, its students, faculty and fans.
Based solely on the “findings” of the report, I feel I must have contributed to the inappropriate culture of the band from 1986-1990. Therefore, I will make efforts to improve the environment of the band today. Those efforts include but are not limited to volunteering to do long-distance counseling for any students, and volunteering to be a part of any future oversight committees developed for the OSUMB. I will also make myself available to marching band alumni who feel they may have suffered personal, psychological or professional damage as a result of this situation. My resume and references will be provided upon request.
My plan is that this will be the first of many letters that you receive from me. I will have more to say as this situation continues to develop. If your office does not directly address my concerns about redacting Exhibits A and B from the publicly available report (and only the publicly available report), I feel it is my responsibility as a Buckeye to make Betty Montgomery and the Board of Trustees aware of my concerns.
I look forward to your response to my letter and again implore you to have Exhibits A and B removed from the publicly available version of the Investigative Report.
Sincerely,



Darrell T. Bunkley, Ph.D.

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