In November, Harvard University said it was canceling its men’s soccer season because of what officials said were sexually explicit “scouting reports” written by players, which graded recruits of the women’s soccer team based on their appearance.
Columbia University, in the same month, suspended its wrestling team after sexually explicit and racist texts were found to have been written by its members.
Then, on Dec. 12, Amherst College announced it was suspending its men’s cross-country team following a report that athletes made misogynistic and racist comments in team-wide email chains over the years.
And now Princeton University has its own suspension story. On Dec. 15, Princeton said it was suspending its men’s swimming and diving team because of material found to have been created by members that, a school statement said, “was vulgar and offensive, as well as misogynistic and racist in nature.” (See full Princeton statement below.)
The statement said that a complaint to the university alerted authorities to the materials, including some on the mailing list of the swimming and diving team.
Three of those schools — Harvard, Columbia and Princeton — are in the Ivy League, and Amherst is a highly regarded private liberal arts school in Massachusetts. What’s going on at these schools? Here’s one thought from Washington Post columnist Sally Jenkins, in a piece she wrote in November after Columbia’s suspension was public. She wrote:
The school’s wrestlers gave up their claim to privacy when they threw out their chests emblazed with the word “Columbia” and became public representatives of the university. Because they did, their subsequent actions slimed their entire student body. They now join the distinguished ranks of Harvard’s men’s soccer players as perfect examples of entitled club-thuggery. Screenshots of their exchanges leaked to a student-run Columbia blog called Bwog.com show them complaining about “feminist bitches” and c-words, “nig” protestors in Ferguson, Mo., and Africans with AIDS, as well as rooting for rape, and boasting “Dude no lie we would run the town of any state school.”
Congratulations to the admissions board. We can dispense with the wearying myth that the Ivies practice some smarter, purer form of sport.
Here’s the statement from Princeton:
The Princeton men’s swimming and diving team has been informed by Ford Family Director of Athletics Mollie Marcoux Samaan and head coach Rob Orr that their season has been suspended pending a decision about the remainder of the team’s schedule.
The decision to suspend the season was made after a complaint earlier this week alerted the University to several materials, including content on the University-sponsored men’s swimming and diving team listserv, that was vulgar and offensive, as well as misogynistic and racist in nature.
“We make clear to all of our student-athletes that they represent Princeton University at all times, on and off the playing surface and in and out of season, and we expect appropriate, respectful conduct from them at all times,” Samaan said. “The behavior that we have learned about is simply unacceptable. It is antithetical to the values of our athletic program and of the University, and will not be tolerated.
“After reviewing the situation with Coach Orr, we have decided to suspend the season, and all associated team activities, effective immediately,” Samaan added. “In the coming days we will make a determination about the status of the team’s remaining schedule and we also will work collaboratively to determine additional actions aimed at education and positive culture building for the team.”
The team is currently scheduled for two remaining meets (versus Navy on January 7 and versus Harvard and Yale on February 5), along with the Ivy League Championships on February 22-25.
“The athletics department and the University are committed to providing an inclusive environment free from harassment and intimidation and characterized by mutual respect and concern for the well-being of others,” Samaan said. “In recent years we have worked closely with Princeton’s SHARE office (Sexual Harassment/Assault Advising Resources and Education) to provide educational and training programs for our students and our staff.
“One program developed by SHARE in conjunction with my office is SCORRE (Strength in Coaching on Relationships, Respect and Equality),” she added. “This program uses the bond between coaches and players to foster interactive dialogue and develop skills that promote healthy interpersonal relationships. Its modules cover such topics as respect, integrity, language, consent, and bystander intervention. We have also developed a program that will be introduced next month that focuses on the responsible and productive use of social media. We will continue to focus on such programs as well as redouble our ongoing efforts to achieve our primary goal, which is education through athletics.”