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Dave Maetzold

TB*BITL

 
Posted July 24th, 2014 @ 9:10pm

The Best Damn Band in the Land. It's a phrase synonymous with the Ohio State University Marching Band.

Pompous? Maybe. Pretentious? Yes. But so entrenched in the lexicon of Ohio State alumni that it has become an accepted moniker for the musicians nationwide.

Even if you don't like the Buckeyes, chances are you like their band, its traditions and the precision with which it operates.

Now this.

The release of a report of alledged misconduct by some OSU marching band members has knocked every instrument in and for the band out of tune.

It's as though someone has rearranged the letters in Script Ohio.

Suddenly "I-dotter" has been turned into a punchline for an off-color joke rather than the prestigious honor for a select few.

Whoa. Hold on a minute.

The report is the result of a two month investigation into the band. Ohio State did the investigating. Ohio State issued the report. And Ohio State moved to fire a very popular, successful band director as a result.

The report exposes what it calls a "sexualized atmosphere" around the band.

The report says band members took part in an annual ritual known as Midnight Ramp in which the musicians, some wearing only underwear marched into a darkened Ohio Stadium in their decades old formation known as "ramp entrance."

The report speaks of band members being giving nicknames--some with sexual overtones. It talks of band members changing clothes in front of one another on the bus. It references a long-standing band tradition of replacing lyrics of rival schools fight songs with sometimes profane language.

And it speaks of some alcohol being consumed on road trips and well as some potentialy sexually oriented behavoir on the band bus.

Any of these issues could be viewed as offensive. They would be of even more concern if students were forced to participate.

The behavior was called to Ohio State's attention by the mother of a band member who felt her child was being exposed to some things she shouldn't have to deal with as a band member.

The end product was the firing of Band Director Jon Waters. Waters, is an Ohio State graduate who played sousaphone in the band in the 90's.

Oh and also the band's reputation is in the dumpster.

The once proud "Best-Damn-Band-in-the-Land" is now fodder for social media comedians from Facebook to Twitter to Insta-gram.

Everybody has an Ohio State band joke and school isn't even in session yet.

Ohio State President Michael Drake, who has been leading the university for just three weeks released his thoughts in a video news release.

His comments now available on You-Tube where the band drew thousands of new followers with video of their one-of-a-kind halftime shows less than a year ago.

Drake, later explained his position in an interview with the Associated Press.

"This is 2014 and we respect our students as young adults," Drake said. "We respect women and we respect all the different people who work with us, we respect that diversity. We just had to make a square-wave change between this report, which is unacceptable, and the future which we start today."

It would be easy for some to get behind this move.

The moralists among us who feel the marching band should conduct themsevles off the field with the same regimented precision and uniformity they do on the field.

There are some who expect these still maturing men and women to behave like the full grown adults who sit in judgment both of a perfect Script Ohio and what they deem should be the perfect Ohio State student.

The fact is, these were students being students.

Just as some in the band played different instruments, so too do some walk to the beat of a different drummer.

These are college students. Some think it's funny to have a silly nick-name.  Some are unihibited enough to change into their uniform in front of others on the band bus.

Some of them drink. Some of them think it's funny to grab someone's rear end.

One of the major "violations" was the crazy underwear practice at night in the 'Shoe.

This is not something most adults would condone. Yet one has to wonder how many of those same adults took a midnight skinny dip as kids or perhaps jumped into Mirror Lake in their boxers during Michigan week.

At Arizona State University, the students do something called the "underwear run" to celebrate the end of classes. They raise money for charity in the process.

12 other universities in the country do the same thing.

Running in underwear may not be everyone's way to express themselves but it's a long way from "sexual harrassment".

The issues raised in the report needed attention. There is no question about that.

In 2014, even the most innocent joke can be deemed offensive. Respect for everyone's feelings is being stressed in the workplace and on campus.

If it's offensive to anyone, it needs to be addressed.

But in this case, a high profile, proud, tradition-rich branch of the university has been publicly soiled.

A popular leader, who somehow found a way to make the best damn band even better has lost his job.

Everyone needs to read the report and make their own judgements. It seems that process is already well underway.

Summer's heat is in full force, testing the mettle of the everyone associated with the band.

Time and change will surely show....

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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