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Leaked Columbia Wrestling Team Group Message Exposes Racism, Sexism & Entitlement

Last week, a series of group messages exchanged between senior members of the Columbia University men’s wrestling team was released on the student publication Bwog, exposing some horrifying racist, sexist and homophobic language and an overall culture of disrespect for women and minorities. In the group chat, which is approximately three years old, the students make offensive comments about people of color, female students at Columbia and protesters of police killings in Ferguson.

Shortly after an investigation of the team was announced by the university, the rest of the team’s season was cancelled, The New York Times reports. The team’s schedule is still posted to their website, however, and no announcements have been posted regarding the recent events.

The comments were “appalling, at odds with the core values of the University, violate team guidelines and have no place in our community,” the university said in an official statement, according to Columbia Daily Spectator.

In comments on news coverage of the scandal, many people seemed upset that the entire wrestling team was punished for the actions and words of a small number of individuals. But these individuals were leaders of the team, and spent a significant amount of time participating in this bigoted culture.

“The entire program, not just individual offenders, [must take] responsibility for the full scope of the harms they caused,” said former Columbia wrestling coach Hudson Taylor in a commentary on the incident.

A petition calling for the expulsion of all of the seniors on the wrestling team from Columbia currently has 1,085 signatures. A protest and occupation of the school’s gymnasium was also held Monday to “hold men’s athletics accountable,” and the organizers demanded that the names of the people involved in the group message be released.

It seems that we are hit with a new story like this from X men’s sports team at X university every week. It’s almost like something about these environments might foster this kind of behavior. Call it “locker room talk” or whatever you want—it’s offensive and violent, and it can’t be condoned by any of us, let alone by institutions of “higher learning.”

Margeaux Biché

Columbia Barnard

Margeaux Biché is a current senior at Barnard College living in New York City. During her freshman year, she studied at the George Washington University in D.C., where she wrote for The GW Hatchet. She is a Women's, Gender & Sexuality Studies major and is passionate about social justice. While she does not know exactly where she'll take her degree, she hopes she can contribute to the advancement of marginalized peoples through legal and/or activist work. Chocolate covered pretzels are her favorite food, Rihanna is her favorite musician and her go-to talent is her ability to wiggle her ears. Margeaux loves dogs, hiking and her hometown basketball team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, all of which are oft-featured on her Instagram account. Twitter | LinkedIn