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Interesting news breaking on the Internet from the AJC

OSU band director fired for 'sexualized' culture

I never understood the allure of being in the high school marching band.

Those who joined had to lug an instrument around all day, practice for many hours (often in the hot sun) and spend their Friday nights entertaining folks who came to watch football.

And let's face it, trumpet isn't an instrument you're likely to sit on the back porch and play when you get older.

But a report issued by Ohio State on the "sexualized" culture of its marching band makes me wonder if learning to play music was the real draw.

The Columbus Dispatch reports OSU band director Jonathan Waters has been fired for tolerating a tradition of sexual harassment among students.

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The findings of the 2-month probe, initiated by a parent complaint, are so damning the university has launched a second inquiry to find anything the first one might have missed.

Here are some details from the 23-page report:

  • Students participate in an annual "Midnight Ramp" walk where they enter Ohio State's stadium at night wearing naught but their underwear. Female members reported shopping together

    at Victoria’s Secret to buy underwear for the event. Some students were naked, according to the report. Waters, who became director in 2012, was present at at least one of the events. Students questioned said participation was not mandatory, but refusal would result in "negative treatment" from students and staff.

  • New band members are assigned nicknames by upperclassmen, and the nicknames are often sexually suggestive. Waters reportedly called at least one female student by her assigned nickname, Wiggles. Waters told investigators the alumni network prints publishes an annual directory that includes names such as Ballsacagawea, Boob Job, Fleshlight, Jewoobs (given to a Jewish student with large breasts), Jizzy and some I can't type here. When Waters was assistant director in 2011, he reprimanded a student for using the moniker Dr. Faggot.
  • New band members are assigned "tricks" to perform upon command by upperclassmen. One example, a female student was told to sit on male band members' laps and pretend to orgasm. This included her sitting on her younger brother’s lap on "make the Band night." Her nickname was "Squirt." Another "trick" was two females -- Jewoobs and Tiggles -- rubbing their chests together.
  • During "rookie introductions" new band members introduced themselves at the front of a moving bus during away-game trips. The rookies would use a dildo as microphone, the report says. After the introduction the rookie would have to walk towards the back of the bus while upperclassmen tried to pull off their clothes. A male student reported being fondled.
  • "Rookie Midterms" were physical challenges that included placing a condom on a banana wedged between a graduate assistant's legs.
  • On the bus, band members would perform a "Flying 69," which involved two students posing in the “69” position while holding themselves in the air from luggage racks or allowing other students to hold them in the air.
  • On away trips, a publication rated each band member according to attractiveness. One publication sorted the band members under the headings "Marry," [F-word], and "Kill."
  • Female band members routinely changed clothes in front of male band members on the bus.

Waters, 38, declined comment to the newspaper. His attorney said Waters attempted to change the band culture but couldn't.

"Jonathan tried as hard as he could within the constraints imposed upon him to change that culture. He did his absolute best," Waters' attorney said.

Waters has not decided whether he will fight his firing or take legal action, the attorney said.

Compared to the beatings (and death) that occurred at Florida A&M, the Ohio State findings seem almost tame, but clearly Waters should have put a stop to many things.

Like I said, I was never in the band, but this sounds like the sort of thing that may go on elsewhere. Maybe that's why you see more guys than girls lugging instruments.

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