Air out all of band’s laundry

After an internal investigation concluded The Ohio State University’s renowned marching band was permeated by a “highly sexualized” culture, its director, Jonathan Waters, was dismissed. He wants his job back and has said much of the report was inaccurate.

OSU officials have stood fast, however, insisting Waters should have done something about customs that may have dated back decades within the band.

Questions about just what was happening among band members persist. Little concerning the allegations is known. One claim is that band members sometimes practiced in their underwear. Another is that some simulated sex acts and were given nicknames related to the behavior.

More needs to be known about what was going on. To that end, OSU officials have launched an outside investigation by a blue-ribbon panel. It is headed by former Ohio Attorney General Betty Montgomery.

She will work with a law firm, a consulting group and an accounting and management company. They are being asked to assess band culture – essentially, how band members interacted, and what expectations and rules, written or otherwise, guided them. Also, university oversight of the band and gender discrimination issues will be addressed.

Of course, Montgomery and her group should provide a public report of precisely what objectionable activities occurred within the band. Just as important will be determining how widespread they were and how long they went on.

If band members felt threatened in any way by the so-called culture, it should not have been allowed to go on.

That would raise another question: How was the alleged misbehavior tolerated for so long, under more than one band director and multiple OSU administrations. If it was truly unacceptable, why was it not reported before – and why was it not stopped?

Young people, often those who consider themselves members of elite groups, often have rituals and initiation requirements. Most of the time they are reasonably mild. But when they descend to the level of abuse, either physical or mental, they should not be allowed at institutions of higher learning which are, after all, intended partly to reinforce mature behavior.