Band director battled for change


It seems to me that Ohio State band director Jonathan Walters should not have been fired. In view of the fact that hazing had existed for many years before he took over and a recent performance review praised his ”courageous” efforts to tackle band traditions, it seems that a reprimand and probation would have been more in order. Surely, some action needed to be taken.

Many people fail to recognize what Mr. Walters was up against. The power of the band alumni and some diehard supporters who resist any change in the band culture claiming it might harm the band’s performance should not be under-estimated.

Rightly, it deserves to be called ”The Best Damn Band in the Land!” And to change the culture, he had to go up against these band alumni and diehard supporters who have resisted any change.

For example, for years they have quelled any attempt to add majorettes, flag and dance teams to the band performance, thereby limiting opportunities for hundreds of other students (mostly women) to participate in halftime shows. I can’t understand why women’s rights proponents haven’t gotten involved in changing this practice.

Mr. Walters has done a great job boosting the band to a new level of performance. Surely, he could integrate the new groups into the band program without any detraction to their performance. Indeed, it might soar to new heights!

The battle isn’t over yet. If Mr. Walters sues, he will either get his job back or receive a significant financial settlement. If President Michael Drake and the university board remain firm, they should also take away any perks and recognition being given to former band directors who allowed such hazing to exist.

William J. Rush