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Ohio State University Band Investigation

Ohio State University Band Investigation

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Published by WKYC.com
Ohio State University Band Investigation
Ohio State University Band Investigation

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Categories:Types, Legal forms
Published by: WKYC.com on Jul 24, 2014
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved

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07/28/2014

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I. RELEVANT BACKGROUND
The Ohio State University Marching Band is nationally recognized for its traditions and innovative  programs. Well known by its nickname, TBDBITL, the Marching Band plays at all home football games and travels to some away games. More than 400 students try out each year for the Band’s 225 spots. Women were first admitted into the Band in 1973, after Congress enacted Title IX. Today, approximately 21% of its members are women. Each member practices approximately 30 hours per week during football season to learn the music and the field formations. As a result of spending so much time together, members of the Band often describe its atmosphere as “a family” with strong bonds formed between students. The TBDBITL alumni club is very active and alumni often interact with current students. Marching Band members are grouped by instruments, which are organized by row, and members are further organized within the row. Each row has a student squad leader and student assistant squad leader who, according to the Marching Band Statement of Policies and Procedures, are charged with: [A]ssisting the Directing Staff in conducting marching drills and grading candidates during tryout week; assisting with the weekly challenges and music checks; uniforms and instrument inspections; recruiting; facilitate with [sic] row communications; providing on-the-field and off-the-field leadership to members of the row; and assuming responsibility for the actions of the row during all rehearsals, performances, and trips. Michael Smith joined Ohio State as Assistant Director of Marching and Athletic Bands in August 2012. Smith has 30 years of prior experience in music education, teaching at every level, from kindergarten to universities. Dr. Christopher Hoch has served as the Associate Director of Marching and Athletic Bands since August 2012. He served on the Band’s directing staff from 2000 to 2002 as a Graduate Assistant Director, and returned as a Graduate Assistant Director in 2009. Hoch played trombone in the Band from 1995 to 1999. Jonathan Waters has been Director of the Marching and Athletic Bands
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 since October 10, 2012. Before that he served as Interim Director from June 2012 to October 9, 2012, Assistant Director from January 2002 to June 2012, and Graduate Assistant from 2000 to 2002. Waters was a sousaphone player and member of K-L row in the Band from 1995 to 1999.
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The Athletic Band performs at all varsity sporting events, with the exception of fall football games. The number of  participants in Athletic Band each semester varies between 250-300 members and anyone is welcome to participate. Directed by Waters, both the Marching and Athletic Bands report administratively through the School of Music. None of the facts in this report with the exception of footnote 7 relate to the Athletic Band.
 
 
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II. SCOPE OF THIS INVESTIGATION
On May 23, 2014 a parent of a Marching Band member visited the Office of University Compliance and Integrity and reported that she had concerns about whether the Marching Band’s culture was sexualized, and stated that its members were made to swear secrecy oaths about objectionable traditions and customs. The parent specifically described an annual tradition of members marching across the field in their underwear under the supervision of the Marching Band directors and staff, including Jonathan Waters. The information provided by the parent constitutes a complaint under the university’s Sexual Harassment Policy 1.15 and Title IX; the parent requested an investigation of these issues, which implicate university policy and federal prohibitions on sexual harassment and raise the possibility of a hostile environment in the Marching Band.
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 At the direction of the Office of Legal Affairs, the Office of University Compliance and Integrity, which oversees Title IX compliance, investigated these issues, as required by university policy and federal law. Compliance Investigator Jessica Tobias and Program Manager Rebecca Dickson conducted an investigation in accordance with guidelines and requirements set forth by the Office for Civil Rights for Title IX investigations. Their efforts were overseen by Chris Glaros, Assistant Vice President for Compliance Operations and Investigations. Conclusions were made using a  preponderance of the evidence standard. Witnesses interviewed include current students, alumni, and staff.
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Complainant – Parent of Marching Band member
 
Complainant’s Child – Marching Band member
 
Richard Blatti – School of Music Director
 
Pam Bork – Senior Physical Therapist, Student Health Services
 
Christopher Hoch – Associate Marching Band Director
 
Michael Smith – Assistant Marching Band Director
 
Jonathan Waters – Marching and Athletic Bands Director
 
Witness 1 – Marching Band member
 
Witness 2 – Marching Band member
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 At the same time, a separate allegation was made involving Jonathan Waters’ treatment of a specific student in 2013. That allegation was also investigated by this Office. Based on the evidence available, the claim could not be substantiated. That finding was presented to university leadership under attorney-client privilege but is not included in this report given protections afforded the student by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Among other protections, FERPA requires redaction or other protection of any information that is “linked or linkable” to students in any way that “would allow a reasonable person in the school community, who does not have personal knowledge of the relevant circumstances, to identify the student with reasonable certainty.” The United States Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, which enforces Title IX, likewise advises universities to protect the confidentiality of Title IX complainants whenever possible. These protections, designed to maintain students’ privacy, also help reduce the risk of retaliation by peers and others against those who raise these concerns.
 
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 The complainant and witnesses recommended specific people to interview and we have talked with or tried to contact each of them. As of July 15, 2014, we were still receiving information from some of the witnesses interviewed. One of our recommendations discussed in Section VI is that the Marching Band membership be surveyed regularly and anonymously about the Band’s climate and culture; we did not randomly interview current Band members for this investigation.

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