Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Allison Schaffer

President Drake,
First and foremost, welcome to The Ohio State University, the best university in the country as far as myself and many others are concerned. In fact, I loved it so much, I took a full 5 years to graduate. My name is Allison Schaffer, a.k.a. Princess, to those who affectionately called me that. I was Hall Council President of Baker Hall, played in the University Band, sang in Women’s Glee and was heavily involved in the Theatre Department. I was a manager for The Ohio State University Marching Band and the Athletic Bands from 1992-1994 and Head Manager for the 1993 Athletic Band season and 1994 football season.
Being a manager was an amazing experience for me from the get go. I was a 19 year old woman trying to figure out where I belonged in a campus full of very different people. I came from New Jersey and really didn’t know the history of Ohio State or the marching band; I just knew that, as soon as I found that organization and the amazing people that were part of it, I found the place I wanted to be. I took responsibility for my actions as an adult. I was never forced to drink, forced to take place in Midnight Ramp and NEVER hazed as implied in your report. I CHOSE to do these things, after all I was living the college experience, right? Yes, my nickname, Princess, was because I am an East Coast Jewish woman and the nickname is short for Jewish American Princess, but this was an affectionate term and not hateful by any means. As a matter of fact, I found that being a Jewish woman was great, I was able to educate those people who never met a Jew, or never had Jewish friends before, making them more diverse. I would have never had these experiences had I joined a social sorority, instead I would be paying to have friends which I got for free the minute I became a part of the band. Better yet, I call these people family … because we all get it! We have all been there and shared these experiences with each other … to me, that’s invaluable. I would never have gone to bowl games, loaded airplanes, met celebrities, participated in traditions and most of all met some of the closest friends that I have TO THIS DAY!
I was shocked to learn about the investigation into the band and the firing of Jon Waters. Jon is a stand up man who has nothing but the best intentions and actions. He has been trying to change that culture but, unfairly, you only gave him a year! One season! Thanks to your decision, the media has made all of the organization past, present and future sound like a bunch of animals. I assure you that this is not the truth and I feel you and all of those involved in this decision, didn’t take the time to speak to those of us who were there. I am saddened by the actions of the university that I proudly (usually) represent as an alumnus. Thanks to your actions, I have had to spend the last few days defending myself, my humility, my friend Jon Waters and most of all MY University!
Allison “Princess” Schaffer
OSU Marching Band
Manager/Head Manger 1992-1994

Monday, July 28, 2014

Victoria Nolte

President Drake,
I marched my fourth and final season with the OSUMB this past year and as a female I feel that I need to speak out. The media and university have dragged a wonderful man and organization through the mud, with very little facts and context. This was not an investigation, it was a witch-hunt.
My nickname appeared in the report, but I was not contacted whatsoever. Ohio State did not conduct a proper investigation, but rather took hearsay to victimize and slander me. I was absolutely not made to feel inferior during my time in band, and these claims of misogyny are way off base. Using this false report, my own university was the FIRST to make me feel like a frail, helpless, inferior, sexual object. I reject any insinuation that I was coerced or pressured into doing ANYTHING. If they had taken the time to talk to me, a more complete narrative would have emerged.
From the time you make band, you are a part of the TBDBITL family and everyone takes care of one another. During my time in the band the older members were constantly making sure I was okay, and it was ALWAYS made clear to me that I did not have to participate in anything that I did not feel comfortable doing. That being said, “midnight ramp” was absolutely all in good fun, the point of it being, “If you can march ramp in your underwear in front of your closest friends, you’ll be able to march ramp in front of 105,000 fans”. Many people chose not to march in their undergarments, but wore as much clothes as made them feel comfortable. Many didn’t even participate. I would like to make it very clear that Jon understood this lighthearted tradition, and was present to make sure we were all safe. He single-handedly changed this to a sober and safe event, and even completely cancelled the event for years following his inaugural year as head director.
Quite a few traditions have been done-away with by Jon and his staff over the past two years. The things we could get away with drastically changed, like night and day, from the beginning of my band career to the end. The band frequently referred to Jon and his staff as the “fun police”, making siren noises whenever he cracked down on us, or changed something. Jon always would have talks with the entire band and squad leaders, feeling it was important to consult the band to get feedback in finding a solution to tweak our deeply rooted traditions. He coined the phrases, “Do we need this? Is this necessary?” The answer, of course, was “No.” Jon was passionate about bringing forth change in our culture, and was a very disciplinary leader. Any other report that says otherwise is absolutely false and fabricated. Jon Waters was TBDBITL’s instrument of change. (Pun intended)
I am very sure about one thing. Without the support of Jon Waters and this band, I don’t know how I could have gotten through my mother’s cancer, or even my undergraduate chemistry classes. I have served as the former vice president and president of the band’s service sorority, Tau Beta Sigma, working closely with Jon to provide service to the whole band. We supported the bands at OSU through recruitment, financial support, and especially welcoming the new members of the marching band and helping them in various ways throughout their first season, among other things. Jon is a stand up man, who cares not only about his own students, but all students involved in music. A few years ago, a tragedy occurred where another Big Ten marching band member lost their life. Although our fiercest of rivals, Jon quickly organized a few TBDBITL members to drive up to the university the next day to speak to their band in support, attend a memorial service, and give the band one of our most prized possessions, a grey baton. I could speak all day about the respect I have for Jon Waters as a leader.
For the first time, I am very disappointed in my university. If you want more change, the only person who understands this band and knows how to do that is Jon Waters. As a female member of The Ohio State University Marching Band Alumni- I stand with Jon.
Victoria “Tulsa” Nolte
Q-Row 2010-2013
Past Tau Beta Sigma President
Biology B.S. 2014 graduate"

Damian Sheets

O' Captain my Captain
The past couple of days have weighed heavily on my heart as I have witnessed an organization (and individual) that I have held so dear to my heart be exposed, insulted, mocked, persecuted, misrepresented, and finally dismantled by the very alma mater that I believed was dedicated to the betterment of that same organization, its members and the community around it.
What I have witnessed over these past couple of days has led me down a path I never thought possible, questioning my allegiance to a University that has been in my heart since I can remember even having the ability to remember. While I did not grow up in Ohio, my parents (both Ohioans) raised me on the core values that I believe were instilled in them by such a great state and its leading university: discipline, loyalty, scholarship, benevolence, family (actual and metaphorical), and empathy. I emphasize the latter two core values because I believe they are especially important in the context of these recent events.
My first true encounter with The Ohio State University Marching Band is undoubtedly similar to many others. I was five or six years old, travelling from Las Vegas to Columbus to go to my first Ohio State game with my father and grandfather. Times were different back then. I learned that my grandfather had never attended college because of his need to support his family and play a role in World War II. Similarly, my father, whom I thought had graduated from Ohio State, was forced to graduate at another institution due to his required military service at the time. Nonetheless, their allegiance to this great university was unwavering, and had been impressed upon me from minute one of my existence.
Upon arriving in Columbus, it was a typical grey and dreary fall day with the leaves changing, the clouds hanging over and rain looming. Our first stop was high street, where they took me to Buckeye Donuts to drink hot chocolate and play connect four before walking around campus and showing me where my mother attended her classes as a student some twenty years earlier. The trees and buildings were beautiful and nothing like I had seen in Las Vegas. All of the fans and students were so excited just to be alive, engaging in another great Saturday of college football and festivities. It didn’t feel like it was about winning or losing, or being number one, but just being a part of a great institution during truly great activities on such a great day. As I continued around campus, this pride echoed through the hallways of every building and resonated in the tone of every voice.
The next stop was St. John’s Arena, where my father began to tell me stories about the band. I remember him saying “If you listen real close, you can hear the band coming. Listen for the drums.” I sat and listened, eager to be the one that heard the band first. The fans would start to clap and die down, and clap some more. Then, out of nowhere, the entire Arena erupted into screams and applause, and with a quick exit, the band came out, so crisp, so clean, so pristine. The quickness of the steps and movements, I remember, were so precise that I could barely contain myself. And then they played
And I knew….
The music, the fight songs, the pride, all so overwhelmingly strong, that I couldn’t imagine any better place in the world to be on any football Saturday. I knew that this was something I wanted to be a part of. I saw the effect it had on the fans around me, the inspiration they drew from it and the sheer fun each member was having. I didn’t see depression, coercion, or harassment, but instead pure happiness and joy from the sons and daughters who were laughing, dancing with one another and visiting their families up in the stands. Once called to order, their professionalism and discipline was distinct, each member working together to accomplish one task…greatness.
And I knew…
Fast forward twelve years (and past an immeasurable number of return visits to watch TBDBITL) to my arrival on Ohio State’s campus as an entering freshman. For the past twelve years, I had been practicing my trumpet, attending music camps, and taking instruction from local TBDBITL alum in preparation for this moment. As with most freshman auditioning for the band, I was forced to move-in two weeks early into an empty dorm suite. Tryouts began and I quickly learned that, while I could play, I was in over my head from a physical standpoint.
And I was cut….
First cut…. (4.5 average marching score for those who know what that means…ouch)
For those of you who have never experienced first cuts, it is a spirit crushing ordeal, one that makes you feel worthless and want to give up on your dreams. They read off the numbers and ask you to go to the other room. At first, you hope that they are just moving you or reassigning you, or that you are going in to another “extra session” where they will provide additional assistance, but then you hear the director start talking to the larger group in your absence, and you know that, notwithstanding how hard you‘ve tried, you’ve failed.
Enter Jonathan Waters, then a graduate assistant, and many other band staff. They walk into to room to give you the bad news, however, instead of simply thanking you and sending you on your way, they tell you war stories about how they got cut, or even first cut, and were able to overcome it to become band members and even squad leaders. They encourage you to engage in the athletic band program, participate in spring band, attend summer sessions, and come back the next year better than ever. They tell you how valuable you are to the organization and to never give up on the music. They instill hope.
And you try again…
Over the next year, I came to know Dr. Woods, Jonathan Waters, and Chris Hoch quite well. As directors and staff, they constantly encouraged me to push myself to the limit and learn from those who had been a part of the organization for some time (“vets” as I would learn they were called). They let me travel, as a freshman, on tournament trips, which only motivated me more. When Spring Band came about, Jon was always there, encouraging me to pick up my feet and turn my corners square. Finally, Jon and Dr. Woods offered me the opportunity of a lifetime, a spot in volunteer band, actually marching in a script.
And I failed again…
Some of you have seen a video of the Script Ohio performance on August 24, 2002. For those of you who have but can’t remember it, let me remind you. It is the one where a bozo collides with a trombone player at the “h” crossover and has to run back to his script spot, in front of 106,000 people. I was that bozo, who had finally been given this opportunity to prove that I should be a member of the greatest marching band in the world, and I blew it (in front of my parents no less) on its biggest stage. That was me, and as heart crushing as being first cut the year earlier, there was no comparison between that and this.
With tryouts only two days later, I returned to my grandmother’s home, only to sulk and consider if I was worth of even trying out at this point. There I stayed until three hours before candidate tryouts were to begin, when I got a call from my father. “No, I don’t think I’m going to tryout this year. I got the opportunity to march, that’s all I ever wanted.” I said to him. “Are you crazy,” he said, “If you don’t go to these tryouts because of one mistake, after having spent your entire life pursuing this dream, I’ve truly overestimated you as my son.” For the next hour, I sat and thought back to the words of encouragement that Jon Waters and other band staff had given me throughout the prior year, and my father was right. I needed to go back and do this. Otherwise, I was ignoring the very thing that TBDBITL was about: figuring out a way to learn from your mistakes and driving through them in order to be a part of something truly great.
And I drove through it….
Tryouts were tough, but I made it, as a regular no less. My squad leaders, Henry Lee and Nick Strickling, two of the most supportive and instructive band members I have ever met, were nothing short of encouraging and positive every step of the way. Along with some fourth and fifth year members in the row, Henry and Nick made it clear that all of the senior members in the band were there to help us with any problems we may have. This included help with marching, music, and even more personal issues, like studies, jobs, relationships, or problems within the band. It became apparent that being a member of this organization was more than just being a number (“T10” and later “T9” in my case), it was being part of a family. This is a sentiment that was reflected every step of the way by every member, and echoed by band leadership. There was never a moment where directors or staff made us feel like we could not talk to them if we needed help.
Throughout my two years in the Ohio State University Marching Band, I witnessed many things, both on and off the field. Some were positive and some might be construed by others as negative, but one thing I never saw was leadership condoning any activity which acted to harass any other member, or place them in such an uncomfortable position that they felt they had no recourse. In fact, that leadership, which included Jonathan Waters, always made it clear that if there was anything that you (as a student) felt wasn’t right, you should immediately bring that to the attention of your squad leader, and if that got you nowhere, you should bring it to them directly. I had such a moment, and brought it to the attention of a senior member of my row (not even a squad leader). With great concern, the senior member took care of it immediately, and within a couple of days, things were much more positive and the problem completely resolved.
There has been a lot of talk recently about students being “forced” to engage in activities like taking oaths of secrecy, marching in their underwear, engaging in “derogatory” song singing, performing “rookie tricks,” performing “physical” challenges, completing rookie “midterms”, engaging in “sexual” and allegedly “derogatory” activities on busses, and creating/reading derogatory publications. What the university and news outlets fail to discuss, likely because of their decision to act with haste instead of reserve and thoroughness, is that so many of these alleged “events” are misrepresented and so many positive aspects of the band have been outright ignored.
First and foremost, directorship and student leadership never forced anyone to do anything in TBDBITL, except give 110% on the field when practicing and performing. From your initial summer session until your last day in band, there are only a few statements that can sum up the position said directorship/leadership: “Enthusiasm”, “Pick up your feet”, “Turn your corners square,” “Drive, Drive, Drive”, and “Drive through it”. These are the bedrock principles of what we are all taught by this leadership core from the moment we become members. We are taught to work hard, push through the pain, and give everything we have to our performances and our lives. As long as we do that, we have earned the right to call ourselves members and alumni of The Best Damn Band in the Land.
Leadership and directorship always made it known that they were there to help the students in any way possible. Whether it be trouble with classes, family problems, or trouble within the organization, this leadership core always encouraged communication with both squad leaders and the directors so that assistance and the appropriate steps could be offered in making the experience the best it could possibly be. In fact, to my knowledge, never did a director, squad leader, or senior member fail to meet with anyone who had a concern about the band, its actions (on and off the field), or its direction. On many occasions members were honored to have directors write letters of recommendation for medical school, law school, and the like.
With regards to the alleged “activities” as represented (more misrepresented) in the University’s “report”, band leadership did not condone any activity which acted to discriminate or harass any other individual, and such was made clear IMMEDIATELY after every member’s inception into the organization. As an example, each year band directorship arranged a meeting with the newly selected band to go over certain rules, policies and procedures. These policies and procedures were deeply rooted in the same TITLE IX that the University now claims Jonathan Waters did not take steps to enforce. During this meeting, Directors, including Jonathan Waters, explained how hazing, sexual discrimination, sexual harassment and inappropriate conduct would be inexcusable, and if such were to occur, it should be brought to the attention of the Directors immediately. Every student was required to sign an acknowledgement to these policies. That being said, it cannot be denied that some of the alleged activities did occur, however, under very different circumstances than portrayed in the University’s report, and certainly without the knowledge of the Directors, who were very much dedicated to the process of eliminating such alleged behavior.
While the University has chosen to take an unnecessarily negative approach towards Jonathan Waters and the Ohio State University Marching Band, as a whole, for these alleged “activities”, what is more disheartening is its attempts to misconvey the facts surrounding such and its further attempts to now vilify Former Director Jonathan Waters in its efforts to justify its almost unilateral and knee-jerk reaction. It is important to note that, the report, which purports to have talked with five current and five former marching band members, was prepared during a time period when the band is effectively dormant and while many students are away for the summer. This, in and of itself, acts to question the integrity of a report which, if taken in its entirety as true, would lead every reader to believe that every man and woman, gay or straight, white or minority, believes themselves to be “victims” of this “horridly offensive” organization. The inconvenient timing of and quick-to-act decision making in this report has, in essence forced the silence of hundreds, if not thousands of current and past members of this organization who might share opinions contrary to those depicted in the report. This includes many who are women, minorities, and those with alternative sexual preferences.
Had the University thoroughly interviewed current and past members of the band, they would have seen that several of its highest ranking members are and have been both women and minorities. This includes, but is not limited to:
• Dwight Hudson and Oliver McGee, both African American drum majors, and integral parts of OSUMB history. During Mr. Hudson’s tenure, then Director Dr. Paul Droste changed band rules so that Mr. Hudson could return for a third consecutive year because, to quote Mike Harden from the September 1979 issue of Ohio Magazine, “DWIGHT – At halftime, he owns the house that Woody built.” This is an honor that only three other drum majors have had in OSUMB history, and is the only time a drum major has had that honor since 1930. Both Dwight and Oliver were also elected “Most Inspirational Bandsmen” in 1978 and 1980, respectively, an honor based entirely on the votes and support of fellow band members.
• Michelle Graf, the first female drum major in the Ohio State University Marching Band, and Kathryn Mitchell, 2003 Drum Major and 2002 Assistant Drum Major.
• Willie Sullivan, an African American male who served as Assistant Director for 12 years.
• Erica Neidlinger, the first female Assistant Director (1998-1999), and Lisa Galvin (2005). Lisa Galvin also served as a Squad Leader of R-Row and, in 2008, joined the staff as a Music Arranger.
• Marcia Lareau, the first female member of the Ohio State University Marching Band Music Arranging staff, with her first show on November 8th, 1986, receiving a standing ovation.
• Wilson Murray, the first African American OSUMB member elected as “Most Inspirational Bandsmen” in 1965.
• Marcel Reeder, an African American who was elected “Most Inspirational Bandsmen” in 1985.
• Colleen Nutter, the first female band member who was elected “Most Inspirational Bandsmen” in 1986.
• Pamela Bork, a female who was elected “Most Inspirational Bandsmen” in 1996. (As a side note, it is interesting that Ms. Bork expressed no issues with the alleged “sexualized culture" of the organization when she was receiving this award and during her no less than 16 year tenure thereafter, but only conveyed her alleged concerns after leaving the band in a disputed fashion).
• Erin Klingbeil, a female who was elected “Most Inspirational Bandsmen” in 1998.
• Amanda Howenstine, a female who was elected “Most Inspirational Bandsmen” in 2001.
• Wesley Clark, an African American and the only person in OSUMB history to be elected “Most Inspirational Bandsmen” twice. (2003, 2005).
• Aaron Bell, an African American who was elected “Most Inspirational Bandsmen” in 2006.
• Cara Ricci, a female who was elected “Most Inspirational Bandsmen” in 2008.
• 53 woman who have held the position of Head Manager, Head Secretary, and Head Librarian within the organization.
• The uncountable list of women and minority “I” dotters.
• The uncountable list of women, minority, and LGBT Squad Leaders and Assistant Squad Leaders that have been in the band over the past forty years.
Finally, there is Kristine Tikson, who I believe represents the essence of what the Ohio State University Marching Band is all about. Kristine originally enrolled at the Ohio State University in 1979, majoring in Accounting. Graduating Summa Cum Laude in 1982, Kristine spent the next 28 years of her life pursing her career, but always regretted not having tried out for the band. In 2010, Kristine retired at 48 years old and decided to pursue her dream yet again. Although she had been a clarinet player originally, she began taking lessons, practicing the mellophone and attending summer sessions in order to prepare for what would certainly be a rigorous tryout.
Early on that following summer, however, disaster struck, and an MCL injury would make it impossible for her to audition. This wouldn’t stop Kristine, however, who instead of quitting, continued attending summer sessions, simply to watch and learn. After allowing her body to recover, Kristine started an intense training regimen, which included intense cardio, interval cardio, muscle strengthening exercises, and daily music practices. In order to gain playing and marching experience, Kristine enrolled in Spring Athletic Band and actively performed at the Ohio State Spring Football Game. After attending summer sessions through the summer of 2011, Kristine finally tried out, only to be cut.
Initially planning not to try out again, Kristine changed her mind, crediting the “positive feedback” she received from the directors and some students on “Make the Band Night.” Using this positive energy, Kristine pushed herself even harder, and was given a spot within the 2012 band. When asked about her experience, Kristine stated “The members of the band have accepted me and have not made a big deal of my age difference. They provide me with daily inspiration – they are so dedicated and talented. Membership in the OSUMB has been rewarding in so many ways. I consider it an honor and a privilege to wear the uniform.” Because of her inspiring story and her dedication to core principles of the Ohio State University Marching Band, Kristine became the only first year OSUMB member to ever be elected “Most Inspirational Bandsmen” by her fellow peers. It should be noted that Director Jonathan Waters presented that award.
It is stories like these, and many others that are now being shared all over the social platform, that the University’s quick-to-act and ill-timed report acted to suppress. Certainly, if one were to look at the University’s report in a bubble, with no knowledge of the OSUMB, its history, its values, its leadership, or its traditions, one could be outraged, but to do so would create such an injustice against the thousands of past and present members who know otherwise. We have no choice but to act now, united and strong.
“Membership in the OSUMB has been rewarding in so many ways. I consider it an honor and a privilege to wear the uniform.”
This is a sentiment that is reflected by most current and past members of the Ohio State University Marching Band, not a select few with individual axes to grind and personal vendettas (those whom the University conveniently chose to interview). This is an organization that has been dedicated to treating everyone equally, whether they be male, female, gay, straight, transsexual, white, or minority. It has been one to honor, rather than discriminate against those who are different, it has always strived to expand its horizons and it has frequently celebrated that diversity and expansion.
For example, just this past season, the TBDBITL Alumni dedicated part of their halftime show to celebrating “40 Years of Women in the Band.” The relevant portion of the show, which was performed on September 7, 2013, can be seen at http://youtu.be/VztAMzzjH0I?t=11m, and featured the five “pioneer” women who took that first step of removing a long standing tradition of TBDBITL being an all-male institution. The band, in honor of these women, played Hang on Sloopy. Surely these are not the actions of an organization that would celebrate a culture of discrimination or sexual harassment.
When watching the performance, the announcer says something which rang true forty years ago and rings true now, “Change is not easy!” Change is never easy, and when a group as large as the Ohio State University Marching Band has been practicing a certain way and following certain traditions for decades, any attempts to change such will be met a fiery resistance like none other. On one hand, it is that dedication and heart that has made TBDBITL what it is. On the other, it means that things cannot change overnight, and those who seek that change must have the courage and strength of a thousand warriors. Only one who has been deeply rooted in that tradition can truly understand the intricacies and difficulties of making those changes which are necessary to make the organization a better place for all students.
There is no man or woman more qualified to make that stand than Jonathan Waters himself. As a member of the band from 1995-1999, as Graduate Assistant Director from 2001-2002, as the Assistant Director from 2002-2011, and as Director from 2012-2014, Jonathan has dedicated his career to instituting that change when given the opportunity.
Below is a short, non-exhaustive list, of just some of the things Jonathan Waters has done in his 21 months as director to ensure change, and some of the things the University Report Seriously Misconstrues:
• As Director, Jonathan Waters did, in fact, prohibit the consumption of alcohol while attending any away games. This topic is completely neglected in the report, and instead, the University completely relies on the statement of Pam Bork, who claims to have left the band because of alleged alcohol abuse and sexual conduct. Instead of interviewing others, the University takes her statements as true, and neglects to entertain the notion that there is quite possibly an ulterior motive for her conveniently timed statements, considering she had no public complaints about the band during the prior 18 years she “volunteered” there, or when she received her “Most Inspirational Bandsman” award. Had the University elected to engage in a more thorough and proper investigation, or given other band members an opportunity to be heard, it would have discovered that Mr. Waters did, in fact, institute policies to protect against these issues.
• As Director, Jonathan Waters did, in fact, end “Midnight Ramp” in June 2014, and addressed it with squad leaders prior to that. While the University’s report conveys “Midnight Ramp” as an event where students were forced to march down the ramp in their underwear, had the University interviewed more aggregate sample of members, it would have learned two things. First, no student was forced to participate in any activity. If a student did not want to do it, they were not required. Second, “Underwear” was a figurative term. For some, underwear meant a pair of gym shorts and a tee shirt. For others it was, well….a birthday suit. A student specifically described (inaccurately so) in the University report as having an offensive nickname recently told the media, “I certainly never witnessed or experienced pressure from anybody in the band to do anything I was not comfortable with at all…It's a tradition meant to welcome people into the family and into the band. I did my first Midnight Ramp wearing a tank top and shorts that provided full coverage.” Her interview can be seen here:http://abc6onyourside.com/news/features/top-stories/stories/band-scandal-former-osu-marching-band-member-named-investigation-talks-33668.shtml#.U9bXQJV0yUk
Even Assistant Director Smith stated, “some students wore pajamas or shorts instead of underwear.” This serves as clear evidence that no one was forced to do anything. Nonetheless, in the face of years of tradition, Director Waters ordered such an event ended effective this coming year. (As a side note, the University’s report curiously fails to investigate whether other University officials “knew, or should have known” of “Midnight Ramp”, but simply places the blame solely on Mr. Waters. It is possible that a more thorough investigation of these concerns could leave the University with an egg on its face?).
• As Director, Jonathan Waters did, in fact, inform students that they needed to “go easy on the nicknames” and, as an Assistant Director, Mr. Waters actually disciplined a student for a highly offensive nickname. The University presents the thought that Mr. Waters had the authority to ban “nicknames” all together, but such would be ignorant of the fact that the nicknames were given from students to students outside of band, and such a policy would have no effect on the students in that situation. All Mr. Waters could do was try to control their use inside and outside of band, but as the report indicated, most offensive nicknames were kept away from band leadership. The report also embarrassingly misstates facts regarding these nicknames. While it speaks of “Jewboobs” being a nickname given to a jewish girl with big boobs, the University never actually made an effort to interview the woman who was given that name. Once interviewed by the media, she explained her nickname was actually “Joobs”, the jewish faith had nothing to do with it, and she consented to the nickname. She said investigators never contacted her and, if they had done so, she would have set the record straight. Her interview can be seen here:http://abc6onyourside.com/news/features/top-stories/stories/band-scandal-former-osu-marching-band-member-named-investigation-talks-33668.shtml#.U9bXQJV0yUk
• As Director, Jonathan Waters removed the term “Rookie” and replaced it with “First Year Member” in an effort to ensure that no student felt demeaned by the term.
• As a Director, Jonathan Waters ended the publication of the so called “Trip Tic.” This was another long standing tradition that Mr. Waters eliminated virtually as soon as he became director. The fact that the University report holds it against him for knowing of its existence when he ended its publication at the beginning of his reign is somewhat nonsensical. To quote one band member not interviewed by the University, “When he became director it was ended very forcefully.”
• As Director, Jonathan Waters had speakers come in to talk about alcohol and to discuss discrimination against women. This occurred during the 2013 season and was completely absent from the University report. Had the University interviewed additional students from that season, it likely would have discovered such.
• The University report publishes a “2006 Unofficial Songbook” as evidence that Jonathan Waters failed to take steps necessary to stop a sexualized culture, but failed to interview any reliable students regarding when and how often the book was referred to, or whether it was ever present at band functions. It also fails entirely to account for the fact that, by its own credits, it is created by students, for students. It also draws attention away from the fact that its newest “version” is eight years old, six years prior to Mr. Waters being named director, and there is no indication that leadership played any role in its creation. Had the University interviewed a larger collection of members, it would have been revealed that, anytime such publication was found by leadership, past and present, it was immediately confiscated, the student disciplined, and the document destroyed.
In essence, when the University chose to conduct its report at a time when so many individuals were not available and in a fashion that was designed to act quickly at the expense of thoroughness, the opinions of so many, including some un-interviewed persons who were actually represented in said report, had their stories of positivity, enthusiasm and “daily inspiration” silenced. Even if you take these few possibly misrepresented “worst cases” as true, the University cannot hide behind the fact that, these individuals and now hundreds, if not thousands of others, make it clear that now Former Director Jonathan Waters was actively taking steps to correct situations.
We, past and present members of the OSUMB, are a family. That is what we asked for, and that is promised each other, maybe not through an oath, maybe not in writing, but through our hard work and dedication to the same goals. We are committed to our music, our marching, our traditions, and to each other, and when one who we have so believed in and has been with us on that path for almost twenty years is shot down, mutilated, and embarrassed, in the blink of an eye, without due process, and without even the most remedial efforts to interview the very subjects of some of the allegations, we must stand up to defend him.
Interestingly enough, this is not the first time Ohio State’s new president has engaged upon such a quick-to-act hiring/firing path. He has already been forced to apologize to one prior institution for the sudden hiring, firing, and rehiring of a dean “without consulting senior faculty early enough or often enough”, and now it appears he may have done it again. While last time, he claimed to have “learned a painful lesson”, it seems to be more and more apparent that the lesson wasn’t strong enough. His story can be found here: http://www.ocregister.com/articles/faculty-77613-drake-chemerinsky.html. It’s time to make a stand.
Jonathan Waters, you’ve been a wonderful leader, and brought about much needed change. You are an inspiration to us all, and we will not let you be the scapegoat for our actions, inactions, or misdeeds, whatever they may be.
O' Captain my Captain…….WB
Damian R. Sheets
T Row 2002-2003.

Tyler "Quasi" Provo

It's time for my voice to be heard. We will not go down quietly.

"I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a
terrible resolve."

Dear President Drake,

First and foremost I am a proud alumnus of The Ohio State University Marching Band, and no one will ever be able to take that away from me. “Plainly, I believe that the recently released investigative report on OSUMB has done more harm than good. It is my opinion that the report is inaccurate, painting an incomplete and misleading portrait of OSUMB culture and its students. The report, unfortunately, lacks a robust perspective representing the opinions, thoughts, and feelings of thousands of current and former students in the band.The portrait that it painted is laced with fallacies, subjectivity, and has caused irreversible damage to thousands of people. The board of trustees has lacked the foresight to see the consequences of your actions and have created a world-wide slanderous campaign that will affect every single members personal lives and careers. I am concerned about the impact of the actions of the university.

I feel personally labeled as a homophobe, alcoholic, pervert, degenerate, abusive, bigot, and sexual deviant among other things as a result of this report. I earned two bachelors degrees in anthropology and history from Ohio State with minors in Jewish studies and music in four and a half years, and graduated Cum Laude. I also worked at least 20 hours a week while attending school alongside participating in the marching band. I have always worked hard for what I believe in and take nothing for granted. For as long as I can remember I wanted to be a member of The Best Damn Band In The Land and worked my entire life to do so. When I had the privilege of seeing the band in person for the first time in 1998 my life was changed profoundly.

For ten years I never lost sight of that goal and when it came time to apply for colleges my only choice was ever Ohio State. However, Ohio State did not choose me. I received my letter of deferment to a branch campus in the early spring and I was devastated. When I thought I had lost all hope, it was Jon Waters who gave me the encouragement to try again and let my application and letters of recommendation be sent to a committee for reconsideration. I waited with bated breath until I received news that the decision had been overturned and I was one step closer to realizing my dream. I trained relentlessly to be in the best physical and mental shape I had been in my entire life in preparation for tryouts. When the day came and my name was read on the list that I had made the band, I wept. And as we left the room to meet our new family there was a man standing in the doorway holding a cell phone and he handed it to me. Jon had called my mother for me so I could tell her that the goal I worked towards for nearly a decade had been realized. As I hung up the phone I began to cry – I embraced Jon and he was the first to welcome me to the band family.

From day one that is what this organization has been to me; these people are my family. You spend countless hours working and rehearsing together and when you finally have free time you spend it with the same people because they're the ones you love. They're your future husbands, wives, groomsmen, bridesmaids, godparents, and life long best friends.

Some reporters and journalists have been quick to point out homophobic and sexist tendencies, most often referring to lyrics in the songbook. I entered in to what some think is a traditionally male-oriented instrument – snare drum. My first year in band both of my squad leaders were females. My second year in band both of my squad leaders were females. These women are elected to their positions through a democratic vote of the row's members and an ensuing interview process with the staff. These women were undoubtedly some of the strongest and fiercest people I had ever met and they were treated as equals and leaders among their peers. These songbooks, which are made to seem like an item that every band member carries on them at all times, were seemingly non-existent in my tenure and I was not even aware of their existence until my third year in band. Seeing countless articles and comments online calling me homophobic and sexist are disgusting and I personally feel violated. Some of my best friends are gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender. I proudly shared the field with all of them, and have shared my home with an openly gay male whom I call one of my best friends. To me and many others the band has always been a community of acceptance and tolerance. We all understood that the moment you put on that uniform and step on the field, no one knows or cares about your sexual orientation and likely can't even tell if you're male or female.

In regards to some of these first year names, the list mentioned in the report contained exclusively names that could be construed as vulgar and offensive without consent of those parties. It did not include any of the hundreds of other nick names in existence that are fun, respectable, and loved. For instance, my nickname was Quasimodo and my trick was to “ring the bell” when “Hells Bells” was played in the stadium on third downs. There was not one single time where I was forced in any way to do this, and it was merely a creative suggestion that I found fun and loved to do. As a fan at football games last year, I would still participate proudly while wearing a jersey with the name “Quasi” on the back.

In my five years in the marching band, not once did I ever feel that I was in an unsafe environment. My tenure in the band came in a time of transition and change. The band that I joined and the band that I left were different and these changes were the direct result of actions that Jon Waters and the rest of the band staff had taken. Many of these changes caused opposition from the students but staff remained firm. To some members of the band – especially those who were more resistant to change – referred to Jon as the “fun police”. This was because Jon worked tirelessly as an advocate for respect of students and had little tolerance for negative or disrespectful behavior.

I was elected to the position of Assistant Squad Leader during Mr. Waters' inaugural season as director. During that season, we saw many changes instituted to the way things had previously been run in an effort to create a safe, productive, and inclusive environment for all members and there are two instances that stand out in my mind, both of which are mentioned in the investigative report.

The first is in regards to one of the rookie nicknames known as “Dr. Faggot.” I believe it is a safe assumption to make that the staff and many other members of the band know about this name because the person was referred to simply as “Dr. F.” Personally, I had no idea that this is what stood for and never thought twice about it, until someone uttered what it was aloud. The directing staff caught wind of this and I can very vividly remember swift action being taken and us spending long hours in squad leader meetings to address issues like this as constructively as possible. Jon would often ask the question “Do we need this?” so we could view these situations objectively, and make the change that was so desperately needed. We did need to change, and we did change.

There are instances of Midnight Ramp mentioned as well, which chronicle its details along with a particular incident involving alcohol poisoning. This event during my first few years of band would take place late at night, was entirely unsupervised and solely student led. This left time for students of age to over-consume alcohol thus leading to this persons poising. After this occurred, staff took measures to ensure the safety of each and every student who willingly participated creating an event that lasted several hours before hand and immediately segued into Midnight Ramp. This policy, instituted by the directing staff, curbed both issues of alcohol consumption and student safety, as well as providing on hand support for anyone who wished to not participate. The event was entirely voluntary and several people did not join nor was anyone coerced into joining. Also, I specifically remember there being police on hand as well for support to ensure the safety of everyone involved as well as many gates inside the stadium being open. This was far from the drunken sex-fest that the report, along with every single media outlet covering this investigation, is making it turn out to be.

If I recall this is incredibly similar to an act that students participate in every year, though not officially sanctioned by the university, where administration has taken steps to not stop it but make it a safe place for consenting adults. I am of course referring to the Mirror Lake Jump which takes place every year. Where thousands of intoxicated students are scantily clad in bathing suits and underwear jump into a freezing cold lake in the middle of winter, for the sake of tradition. I consistently felt less safe at this event than I ever did during any midnight ramp. During midnight ramp there is no chance of hypothermia and you are surrounded by 225 of your closest friends and family rather than complete strangers. Is Mirror Lake only acceptable because you simply stop 50,000 students from participating and the fact that it's made public? Why is something like this not considered over-sexualized (because underwear is no different than a bathing suit, you just wear it all the time) and it is littered with alcohol (which our staff was able to get rid of). Also, women are legally allowed to be topless in the city of Columbus – anyone who has been to Comfest before can attest to this.

As I'm sure you are aware by now from the hundreds, if not thousands, of letters you have received imploring you to reinstate Mr. Jon Waters to the helm of the band, you must realize that he has been your biggest ally in change. The band was clearly on a track for success both from it's public persona, but internally. Changes were being made and every single one was for the benefit of the students. As any single cultural anthropologist at this university can tell you that you cannot change a culture overnight. Things deeply ingrained take time, and I implore you to allow a little more time for him to finish the job he so clearly started. It's time for you to ask yourself the question “Do we need this?” and for you to come to the right conclusion.

Attached is a picture that I have kept with me for over a decade as inspiration. It's from the game I mentioned earlier from 1998 of a personal hero of mine. Without him, I would not be where I am today nor the man I've come to be.

All My Best,

Tyler “Quasi” Provo
I Row - 2008-2012
— with Jonathan Waters.

Jay Sheridan

This is a long post, mainly for those that are not part of my OSUMB family. One of the most important lessons that I learned from Dr. Jon Woods is to live by the 24 hour rule before commenting. This has taken longer. Since the new Ohio State President Drake and this report has essentially called all of us drunken perverts, it has taken me a while to be able to complete thoughts together. After reading comments on the official OSUMB page, it truly upsets me how we are all now being judged. I played trombone in F Row from 1991-95. Still very PROUD.
Who are the members of The Ohio State University Marching Band?
We come from Anytown, USA. From small towns like Elmore, OH to the suburbs like Dublin, or the city. We cover about every geographic, economic, political, religious, ethnic, racial, sexual orientation realm of the spectrum. We have all grown up being called names like "band geek" "band nerd" etc. We all still worked hard on this one thing we all loved- marching band. How can such a uniquely diverse group work so well together on the field?
We all simply wanted to be the best. We wanted to be part of the Best band. And, we had to earn it.
Each member has spent many hours preparing for the tryout process. Trips to Columbus a couple times a week, practice at regional summer sessions, practice at home, alone. We each spent two days in the heat of summer being drilled over and over and over again to the point where, at dinner, you try to pick up your fork, and your brain says "Left Flank, Right Flank". We did this so much, it was easier than walking. Finally, Wednesday evening came when we were selected. Hey, you made the band! Time to relax! WRONG. This is when we got our music. Oh, you tried out on 2nd trombone, well, you will now play 1st trombone, and you will now need to re-learn all the school songs...by Friday. AND, here are the charts to the first show, pregame and halftime...And did I mention that we perform Friday night at a high school game? Time to work. This is about how we all started. And we wouldn't have traded it for ANYTHING. Some of us took one year, two years, even three years to get here. But, we all did. Some stayed one year, two years, five years, it doesn't matter- we are all the same- members of The Ohio State University Marching Band.
This is a very, very important factor for marching band members. Although, to an outsider, the formations on the field look like they flow effortlessly, that is often NOT the case. I wanted to be able to trust those around me to be able to march their part perfectly. I had the opportunity to march near a baritone squad leader during a star formation. Right after we turned at the top of the star, we turned and went back around. I trusted Nate to turn correctly so that I did not hit him with my slide. On Friday, during Squad Leader music checks, Nate was not in his spot and an alternate filled in. At the turn, she did not turn and my slide smacked down on the top of her baritone. Bent slide. Chipped tooth. Spitting blood. We trust our fellow band members. This is what makes the OSUMB one large family. We trust each other. On the field, the OSUMB marches as one. No distinction between individuals. We look the same from a distance. Why? Because we are a group, not a bunch of individuals.
This is who we are. We work hard. Endless hours of work. We were expected to be on time (aka 10 minutes early) and to work hard. Basic expectations. On the quarter system, I received 5 credits for my Math 116 class. 5 hours a week, one midterm, one final- that was about it. (Bill Knight, remember this class?). Marching band with 10 hours class a week, plus several hours memorizing music, plus cleaning and polishing instrument, plus ALL day Saturday game days...2 credits. We didn't do this to pad our GPA. We did this to be the best. We worked everyday to be the best. Our directors expected the best, everyday- especially when he asked for "one more time" at 6:10 and practice ends at 6, it is dark, and cold. He wanted us to be better. And always better. We had/have the best music arrangers allowing us to play good music every week. We worked hard, and when it was time to play...we played hard. We had our share of fun. Was too much alcohol consumed. Probably. Any different than any other college students? Probably not.
Have I ever been hazed in the marching band? NO. Have I ever been harassed? NO. Never. Period. Have I ever taken part in hazing or harassing? Not a chance. No way. We knew the University defined rules. Never crossed them. Period. There was an incident at Michigan State during this time, and we were educated on hazing rituals, etc. Let me shed some light on some of the issues brought out in the report.
Nicknames- I am proud of my nickname. During my first tryout year (91) an upperclassman must have seen some promise in my marching and started to shout encouragement to me. However, as we were only referred to as a tryout number and I didn't talk to very many people, he started calling my Little Buddy. Most nicknames don't stick. A few do. Most are normal names. Sputnik. Tater. Little Buddy. Trigger. Mumbles. What. Harmless names given to individuals of a group. Not ashamed. Period.
Midnight ramp. We were never forced to go. My first year, I did not. Didn't want to. I didn't know what to expect and just didn't want to go. I was told the next day that I was missed. Most people wore boxers, shorts, tank tops, etc. Not much different than going to the beach.
Changing on the bus. Really? This was an issue? This is common among high school bands. Amazingly enough, changing facilities for 250 college students aren't available on every street corner. Sometimes, we just have to do what we have to do. We expected it. We prepared for it. We found out what happens when we dropped the band off at an Ohio Turnpike rest stop Raxx Restaurant late at night. With 3 workers. Do I need to explain what happened? Again, most of the guys wore shorts/boxers the women wore shorts/tanks. It was never a big deal. Ever.
Song lyrics. Maybe 20 years ago, "obscene" lyrics would be shocking. But in 2014? Ever hear anything recent? Is President Drake going to fire Coach Meyer if the team plays music with obscene lyrics? Guaranteed those lyrics are worse than anything in a marching band songbook.
Verbal abuse? Did we get yelled at? Of course. And we deserved it. Dr. Jon Woods only yelled when he needed to. And he meant it. However, afterwards, it was fixed and he never held a grudge to anyone. Sometimes, we screw up and we need someone to put us back on track. Abuse, no.
Do many things of the past need to change? As we are in the age of digital media and camera phones, it is imperative that ALL groups be more careful in questionable areas. Jon is the right choice. Jon is the best choice. This is who we are. This is why ‪#‎westandforjon‬.
So, to President Drake and all those appalled at what appeared in the report, this is who we are. This is why we do what we do. We are regular people holding regular jobs all over the country. We are parents. We are outstanding members of our community. Most of all, we are TBDBITL, and we are PROUD to be.
Welcome to Ohio State. Hope you enjoy your stay.
Sorry for the long post. WB!

General Letter from Some of the Women Alumnae of the OSUMB

As female alumnae of the Ohio State Marching Band, we would like to speak out against recent allegations against Jon Waters, the Director, and the organization of the marching band as a whole. We find the report on which his dismissal was based to be a sensationalized and one-sided view of an organization, and would like to contribute our views, as women and former bandmembers, to the conversation.

The official report consistently referred to a “sexualized” culture within the band, saying that the culture “facilitated acts of sexual harassment, creating a hostile environment for students.” The report also implied, if not outright asserted, that female students were routinely made to do things they felt uncomfortable doing, and that they were treated poorly by other ensemble members and by the staff. If the report had spoken with other female members of the band, or former members, the picture painted of interactions with band members and staff would have been strikingly different. The vast majority of female alumni did not have the experience described in the report; for us, the male members of the marching treated us as the equals we were. As strong, intelligent, athletic women, we did not need nor want to be treated in any other way; we did not need to be coddled or protected. And just like the male members, we were all told that we did not have to participate in any activities that made us feel uncomfortable.

A common thread running through many of the female alumnae’s recent comments regarding the band is that we are stronger, independent and more successful women because of our time in the band. We learned the value of hard work to make the band and maintain our spots, of teamwork in working with others, and learned to respect ourselves and others in conflicts to work things out when necessary. 

The university’s report focused on the use of nicknames for first-year members of the band, highlighting twenty-one nicknames they deemed as “sexual.” What the report fails to consider and acknowledge, however, is that these nicknames are given to both males and females, are generally given with the consent of the nicknamee, and that the nicknames are not used in a derogatory fashion.

The report highlights two nicknames in particular: Tiggles and Joobs, erroneously cited in the report as “Jewoobs (given to a Jewish student with large breasts)”. It is surprising, given the report’s in-depth discussion of these nicknames and whether or not they were offensive, that nobody conducting the investigation contacted either of these women to inquire whether they took offense to the nicknames given to them, or whether any of the events reported by the complainants ever actually occurred.

Both women (Jeanette “Tiggles” Town and Alexandra “Joobs” Clark) have since penned eloquent responses to the report. Both ladies had the same reaction: their nicknames were given to them with their consent and approval, they were never offended by the names, the names were never used in a derogatory manner, and they were never (as was suggested in the report) used by Jon Waters or the band staff. Most importantly, it was not until the publication of their nicknames in the university report that they felt objectified, sexualized, depersonalized, and violated – by the university itself, and by the general public. Why the author of the report felt the need to comment both on Alexandra’s religion and breast size, and why that information needed to be included in the public report, is beyond comprehension. 

The Ohio State marching band is one of the very few organizations anywhere where men and women are held to the same exacting standards, both in terms of musical and physical performance. The use of Title IX to argue that Waters did not take actions to eliminate what the report deems “harassment” is a misapplication of Title IX, the goal of which appears to have been an attempt at a legal justification for the immediate dismissal of Waters.

The report states, “… only one witness stated that there had been transition in the culture of any kind.” The authors of the report interviewed a small number of people, all of whom apparently had some connection to the original complainant or were referred by other witnesses. That is not a representative sample, and is certainly not representative of the opinions of numerous band members, both male and female, who state that Jon Waters was making efforts to change the culture of the band from the time he was appointed as Assistant Director under Jon Woods. These opinions have been expressed to the media, on social networks, and in letters written to President Drake and others involved, and would have been available to the authors of the university report had anyone asked.

The report later states: “Intending to eliminate sexual harassment over a period of years does not constitute sufficiently prompt or effective action.” As any leader can tell you, it is impossible to change a culture immediately, and it is also impossible to change a culture by simply changing the leader. In order to change a culture, you have to have the respect of the culture, and to work within the culture to educate and reform practices. Jon Waters had the respect of the band members, and he was in a unique position to be able to effect change; however, he was not given the time or the institutional support from the university necessary to enact the changes in the band culture that would have preserved the character of the ensemble and brought it into line with 21st century sensibilities.

The manner in which he was fired, the release of the university report and the supporting material, and the media sensationalism that has followed, has destroyed not only Jon Waters’ reputation, but that of the band itself, its current and former members, and of the university. The decision to fire Jon Waters was short-sighted; it was not warranted, it was not what was best for the organization, and it was not what was best for the university.

We are female alumnae of The Ohio State Marching Band, and we Stand With Jon.  

Leigh VanHandel, Ph.D.

As a female alumna of the Ohio State Marching Band (1989-1991), I find myself compelled to join what I’m sure is a large chorus of voices you have heard recently regarding the firing of Jon Waters. I find his dismissal to be a short-sighted decision, and one made based on a sensationalized and one-sided view of an organization.

I'm saddened by all of the conclusions that people and the media are jumping to. In an effort to sensationalize the story, the band is being referred to as “hypersexualized” and “misogynistic”. There are implications, if not outright assertions, that female students were routinely made to do things they felt uncomfortable doing, and that they were treated poorly by other ensemble members and by the staff. That was absolutely not my experience in the marching band.

In my three years in the marching band, I never once felt pressured to do anything I was not comfortable with. The first year I made the band, I was told about the Midnight Ramp tradition, and told that if I chose to attend, I could wear whatever I was comfortable with. What I chose to wear provided as much coverage as if I was wearing a tank top and loose-fitting shorts. It was a celebration and bonding experience with the 224 other people with whom I had just spent two grueling tryout days. Nobody forced me to go, and there were members of my row who, for their own reasons, did not attend. I also never felt as though the environment was anything other than what would normally happen if you put 225 healthy, intelligent, and creative 18-22 year olds together in a group.

I enjoyed my time in TBDBITL immensely; I learned discipline, teamwork, and responsibility in that band. I was given the opportunity to work on arrangements for the band, and for some of the small ensembles, and that helped to foster a love of music in me that led me to eventually get my Ph.D degree in music theory from Stanford University. (I now am an Associate Professor of Music Theory at Michigan State University.) I have said many times that I am actually prouder of trying out for and making the OSU marching band than I am of my Ph.D. degree.

A culture cannot be changed overnight; it takes time, and most importantly it takes the members of the culture having respect for the leadership. It is my understanding that Jon Waters was successfully addressing some of the elements within the band culture. The band members respect Jon Waters, and given time and the proper support from the university, I believe he would have been able to enact changes in the band culture that would have preserved the unique character of the ensemble and brought it into line with 21st century sensibilities. Instead, Jon is being punished for a culture that was in place far before he was even a member of the ensemble, much less its director, and is not being given the opportunity to continue to raise the level of excellence of the ensemble. I believe the decision to fire him was short-sighted, and is not in the best interest of the ensemble or of the university. 


Leigh VanHandel, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Music Theory, Michigan State University

H-Row, 1989-1991