At some point, people are going to finally learn that if you have nothing kind to say about somebody, then don’t say anything at all. And now, members of the Columbia University wrestling team are learning that lesson the hard way after being suspended for sending lewd group messages and texts.
A school investigation confirmed that homophobic, racially charged and misogynistic messages had been sent by members of the team. The school had shut down the entire program while it conducted the inquiry.
The school published this statement on its website. It read, in part:
Columbia’s Department of Athletics has completed its investigation of the school’s varsity wrestling team, working together with the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards. Over the past week we made it clear that the team would not compete while the investigation was pending. It has now been determined that the deeply offensive group messaging and texts were written, sent and viewed by a distinct group within the wrestling team. While all team members feel a sense of collective responsibility and regret for what was said and done by some, the investigation found that the individual student-athletes who participated in the group chat acted on their own.
The messages came to light when independent student-run campus website bwog.com captured screen grabs of some of the messages, some of which date back to 2014, according to the website. The student-athletes suspended from the team were part of a “distinct group” within the team, Columbia said.
Some members of the team were found not to be involved, and they are permitted to continue competing. As for those involved, some were suspended until the start of the 2017 spring semester, while others were punished more severely and are suspended for the remainder of the 2016-2017 school year.
The wrestling team at least published a letter of apology on bwog.com addressed to the “Columbia community.” The letter read:
All of us apologize, without reservation or condition, to all members of the Columbia community for the creation and dissemination of the inappropriate, vulgar and hurtful text messages which have affected so many members of our community and the overall University.There is no excuse for this behavior. All of us have gained an entirely new perspective on how hurtful the comments made by members of our team truly are. These messages are not just words or playful jokes between teammates. This has been a wake-up call for our team. A culture change was obviously needed — and, rest assured, it will take place.
The Columbia situation is the second such incident in a month involving an Ivy League sports team. Harvard canceled the rest of the men’s soccer season after after players reportedly ranked the looks of their counterparts on the women’s soccer players team by using sexually explicit remarks.