Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Karen Crockett

President Drake and OSU Board of Trustees,

As someone who has worked with The Ohio State University Marching Band (OSUMB) for over forty years, I have an important perspective relevant to understanding the work of Jonathan Waters and the culture of our Marching Band family.
In past decades, long before Jon Waters held any position of leadership in the band, student behavior did include examples of sophomoric, inappropriate “humor”-based behavior. These trends were not specific to the marching band, but rather exemplify the broader culture present among college student populations in general, and within the broader society. Some of the specific behaviors that found their way into our marching band culture were a by-product of our military beginnings as an organization. Even those deeply rooted “traditions” were already in the process of being successfully eliminated through the initiative, high moral values, and tenacious efforts that Jonathan Waters independently brought to his role as Director. His work was moving us all toward more currently acceptable expectations.
Jonathan Waters is deeply committed to students, focusing on the quality of not only their education but to also to their college experience in a wholesome and safe environment. As the Director, Jon has worked diligently and tirelessly to improve the culture of the band. In less than two years, he has done more to improve the culture and student behavior than anyone in the band’s rich history. Some of the many improvements already accomplished include:
• Elimination of inappropriate nicknames
• Elimination of poor behavior on busses
• Elimination of “midnight ramp” 
• Forbidding excessive alcohol consumption before/during the annual Band Dance
• Implementing trainings for staff and student leadership 
• And most importantly, fostering a focus on respect for self and others.
These changes, in order to be effective and long-lasting, were being accomplished in a holistic way, by including the participation of our well-defined student leadership and were implemented with full collaboration between all staff members. An organization of this size cannot be reformed without including the layers of influence coming from all levels. Through this comprehensive approach, Jon Waters has made great strides in improving the band’s culture, thereby protecting students from inappropriate behavior including outdated “traditions”. But even he cannot and should not be held responsible for behavior off-campus, during non-band hours, and not connected to band events.
A more thorough and accurate investigation would have also clearly revealed the band’s positive cultural components focused on service, patriotism, and on citizenship. Under Jonathan Water’s leadership, the band has significantly increased service projects, charitable efforts and fundraising for the OSU community, as well as for entities reaching far beyond the University.
The students in OSU’s Marching Band are intelligent, hard-working, respectful, dedicated people who move on to impressive life accomplishments as professionals and community leaders. We should take pride in their accomplishments as doctors, teachers, clergy, artists, soldiers, engineers, attorneys, social workers, … the list goes on and on. Instead the dismissal of Jon Waters, based on a narrow and erroneous “report” has tarnished all of us, including the thousands of former members whose lives were forever enriched by their membership in our band.
What sad, embarrassing irony that our organization, OSUMB, steeped in excellence and respect, has been so wrongly characterized by a “report” that was poorly conducted, one-sided and misguided.

Our honor defend…

Karen Crockett
1302 Peppercorn Drive
Galloway, OH 43119

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