Ohio State University leaders failed to properly investigate the marching band and former band director Jonathan Waters ignored suggested training and programs that could have addressed sexual harassment issues, the university’s former Title 9 compliance officer said Wednesday.
Andrea Goldblum resigned April 30, before the university began its investigation into allegations involving the marching band. But Goldblum said she pursued concerns about the conduct of band members with Waters while still in her Ohio State post, and that the university’s issues with Title 9 run deeper than what has been exposed in the marching band.
In its investigation, Goldblum said the university failed to interview police officers, student conduct officials and a random sample of current band members. Meanwhile, Waters failed to take her suggestions for sexual harassment training and programs seriously, she said.
Waters was fired in July after a two-month OSU investigation concluded that he turned a blind eye to a sexualized culture that included raunchy nicknames, sexual tricks, crude ‘exams,’ and a songbook loaded with offensive lyrics. Since then, band members and alumni have rallied around Waters, calling for his reinstatement and criticizing the investigation as sloppy. The university reiterated Wednesday that Waters’ firing would not be reconsidered.
Title 9 prohibits sexual discrimination and harassment in federally funded education programs.
Goldblum resigned after just 15 months as the Title 9 compliance officer because she says university leaders failed to provide resources needed to properly handle Title 9 issues, such as a private room in which to interview rape victims.
“At its best, the atmosphere was sterile. At its worst, the atmosphere was hostile,” said Goldblum, who also spent nearly eight years as OSU’s student conduct director. “I was treated in a demeaning manner and, as I mentioned, was not permitted to do my job in the way that it needed to be done.”
Goldblum had a rocky tenure in the brief time she held the job. In mid-February she filed a discrimination complaint against Gates Garrity-Rokous, vice president for OSU Office of Compliance and Integrity. The university-hired attorney who investigated the complaint concluded there was no discrimination.
“The finding was I couldn’t adapt,” Goldblum said. “I’ve been in the field for 25 years at six universities and worked nationally on these issues. It wasn’t me who couldn’t adapt.”
Ohio State officials say Goldblum’s’ claims about the Compliance office were fully investigated and found entirely unsubstantiated.
“Ohio State leads the way nationally on ensuring that we have a safe campus that is free from sexual misconduct,” said Chris Davey, assistant vice president of media and public relations for OSU.
“At no time did Jonathan Waters alert our Office of Compliance and Integrity – through the Title 9 Coordinator Andrea Goldblum or otherwise – of any of the cultural issues that subsequently were uncovered through the recent investigation, nor was any issue raised from any other source. There is no evidence that Andrea Goldblum knew of the cultural practices and problems uncovered through the investigation.”
Goldblum said she met with Garrity-Rokous and Waters last spring and talked to Waters about her concerns about alcohol abuse, sexual violence and sexual harassment within the band. She described Waters’ response as “nominal” and that he failed to follow through on the suggestions. According to Goldblum, Garrity-Rokous chided her for being “too aggressive.”
Dayton area attorney Gary Leppla, who is active in the band alumni group, supports Waters.
“Jonathan Waters has repeatedly stated that he was frustrated by the lack of support he received in pursuing social and cultural input for the OSU Marching Band, such as faced by any campus leader,” Leppla said. “It seems Ms. Goldblum was frustrated as well. With limited resources and support neither were able to hook up with the other in the most helpful way.”
Goldblum, who now works for national consulting firm, said speaking out against her former employer puts her at risk.
“I’m so passionate about Title 9 and it’s so important that it be done right and that it be done well and that the concern be for the people involved that something needed to be said,” Goldblum said. “Because, again, if no one will stand up, they (university leaders) don’t ever have to change.”