OSU Band Leader Calls Hazing Investigation 'One-Sided' and 'Flawed'


In an interview with The Today Show Tuesday, former Ohio State University marching band director Jonathan Waters argued both that the hazing culture within the band had been going for decades, but also that he had been devoted in his attempts to get rid of it.

Waters was fired after the report came out, which detailed inappropriate conduct amongst the band members: hazing via offensive song lyrics, sexual harassment and even sexual assault. “We have taken steps to eliminate this stuff,” Waters told Savannah Guthrie, adding, “Let me be very clear that harassment of any type is not tolerated and should not be tolerated.”

When pushed by Guthrie about why he didn’t immediately try to change this “entrenched” culture when he became band leader, Waters appeared to backtrack a bit, responding, “I have, I have.”

“This report cites things that happened before my leadership of the band,” he said, though Guthrie then noted that he was assistant band director for 10 years prior to his position at the head of the band.

“I couldn’t affect total policy at that time,” he said, adding that he was “just disappointed that we didn’t get a chance to finish that job” of reworking the culture.

Waters wouldn’t say that he had any plans to sue the University or try to get his job back but he did argue that such good performances “do not happen without an atmosphere of respect, camaraderie, discipline.” He stood up for his former students, saying that the report included things that weren’t going on anymore; in an interview with ABC News, Waters added that he believed the “sample size” of students interviewed for the report was too small. “All of those wonderful things that you see on the field were also happening in the hearts and souls of our band members.”

In his wake, OSU has promoted two new directors for the band, one of whom will focus specifically on Title IX compliance and safety. A message about upcoming band tryouts on the OSU Marching Band website includes only a brief reference to the “challenges” the band is “working through.”

Image via Jamie Sabau/Getty

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