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Former Trombone Player Recalls OSU Marching Band During '80s

Scores of former Ohio State University Marching Band members have come to the defense of its fired director and the organization’s reputation. We recently reported a university official made efforts to stop questionable band “traditions” in the early 80s following a hazing incident. WOSU talked with a band alum who marched with TBDBITL during those years. Doug Hall became an OSU Marching Band trombone player in 1982. Today, Hall credits his success an engineer to his time in the marching band. “I learned how to manage my time better," Hall said. "I learned how to accomplish a goal working with people I liked and with people I didn’t." Hall supports former band director Jon Waters who OSU officials fired, in July, after a university investigation found he did not stop a “sexualized culture” in the band. Hall commented on our story about a former School of Music Director who insisted, in 1982, hazing and inappropriate “traditions” cease in the band. Hall recalls the 1982 Illinois trip during which he said a woman was hazed. “Someone stepped way over the line in what was appropriate behavior...and the people that were involved were punished," he remembered.

But Hall said that is the only hazing incident he knew of in the five years he was in the band. “Now there were things that people said and people did, well, somebody didn’t like. And people had to learn to stand up and say 'I don’t like that.'”

As an adult, Hall said he might raise his eyebrows at some of the long-time band “traditions,” but he said most of them were meant elicit a laugh. When asked why then Jon Waters felt the need to end some of them, like the late-night stadium underwear march, Hall said the pressure of a cultural shift. “Society likes to think that it’s gotten more conservative and Puritanical," Hall said. "Well, OK, now you need to adjust to what society thinks.”

Ohio State officials stand behind the investigation’s findings and the decision to fire Waters. The university has declined requests for comment due to Waters’ lawsuit.