Columbia University has suspended its wrestling team from competition as it investigates text messages that include racist, sexist and homophobic language.
The group texts were discovered by Bwog, an online Columbia news site. Here are two of the homophobic texts:
The language in the texts used crude terms for women and their appearances, and several instances of the N-word to describe blacks. From Bwog:
The messages show a lack of respect for women —even those with whom they interact regularly. In the screenshots we received, the wrestlers sent each other numerous photos of female Columbia students and mocked their appearances. One of the men said a female student looked like “a dude in a wig.” Another woman was referred to as “fish pussy.” The wrestlers in the GroupMe also mocked female students as a whole. In one message, a wrestler refers to female Columbia students as “ugly socially awkward cunts” who feel “entitled.” Just messages before, another member of the team expressed frustration over how their team would “run the town of any state school” where “every girl begs for the cock so hard.” It appears these team members don’t realize the irony in referring to women as “entitled” for wanting to control their own bodies.
Among the misogynistic messages is a shocking proliferation of racism and racist comments. Their comments about black women come across as especially distasteful and cruel. The wrestlers’ usage of the n-word is flippant, too, and they use it to refer to women with whom they’ve hooked up, workers at businesses around Columbia, and protesters in Ferguson, MO.
Columbia is an Ivy League school located in New York City, one of the most liberal places on Earth. The school released a statement that read: “Columbia University has zero tolerance in its athletics programs for the group messaging and texts sent by several members of the men’s varsity wrestling team. They are appalling, at odds with the core values of the University, violate team guidelines, and have no place in our community.”
What’s ironic is that Columbia wrestling had been held up as a model of inclusiveness. From 2010-14, one of its assistant coaches was Hudson Taylor, a former collegiate wrestler and founder of Athlete Ally, which seeks to end homophobia in sports. Taylor on Monday addressed the texts:
The Class of 2017 were first-years in my final year coaching. The contents of their group chat, which I had no idea existed, came as a chilling shock to me — honestly similar to the shock of last week’s election. It exposed an ugly underbelly I could have guessed was there but didn’t see. Maybe we were looking in the wrong places. Maybe our privilege blinded us. Maybe our vigilance pushed that kind of language out of the locker room and into cyberspace. Maybe our conversations focused too much on optics and not enough on attitudes. Maybe we talked too much to them and not enough with them. ...
Their words also present a need for fundamental soul-searching across the wrestling community, because if it’s happening at Columbia, I’m willing to wager it’s happening in almost every athletic department across the country. It happened at the University of Maryland, and that’s what compelled me to become a social justice activist.
Columbia is not the only Ivy League school that is dealing with such social issues. Harvard this month suspended its men’s soccer season after discovering a “scouting report” players made on the attractiveness and sexual desirability of the women’s team.