One week after the Harvard men’s soccer team’s “scouting report” was publicized and condemned by university officials, the Columbia University wrestling team finds itself at the hub of a similar scandal. The team has been called out by student journalists who gained access to private messages sent by the team using the app GroupMe which contained a sequence of racist, misogynistic and homophobic slurs.
Screengrabs of the group chat were sent anonymously to Bwog, an independent news source run by Columbia students. The published messages covered a span of three years.
Aside from violating the guidelines of good sportsmanship laid down by the Columbia athletics department, the university said in a statement last week that the “appalling” conversation was “at odds with the core values of the university,” and has no place in a scholarly community.
The team withdrew from their first scheduled meet of the season after university officials announced a zero-tolerance stance on the issue, asserting that the team will not compete again until the athletics department has a full understanding of the facts surrounding the situation.
James Fast, a sophomore at Columbia and student publisher for Bwog, says he finds the university’s quick response and decisive actions encouraging. Other students, however, are not so content to leave the matter in the hands of university officials.
On Friday, students formed a protest outside the doors of Kappa Delta Rho, a fraternity to which several members of the wrestling team belong. A Facebook page entitled “Holding Men’s Athletics Accountable” shows record that 282 students attended the event, and a change.org petition calling for the expulsion of the wrestlers involved in the incident is well on its way to 1,000 signatures. A student protestor told The New York Times, “Seeing that dialogue happening behind closed doors with our classmates and our peers was very, very shocking.”
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