Students walk across the campus of Columbia University in New York.REUTERS/Mike Segar
Columbia University suspended its wrestling team’s season on Monday while it investigates a leak of illicit text messages sent among team members, The New York Times reported.
The messages, shared on the private messaging app GroupMe, were peppered with derogatory references to women, minorities, and gay people. Screenshots of the messages were made public by independent student-run news site Bwog.
The university described the inflammatory messages as “appalling” in a statement.
“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,” the statement said.
Over the weekend, Columbia students protested outside the house of Kappa Delta Rho fraternity, whose members include wrestlers.
“Seeing that dialogue happening behind closed doors with our classmates and our peers was very, very shocking,” Claire Fry, a sophomore at the university, told the Times.
On Monday a Facebook event called “Holding Men’s Athletics Accountable” urged students to “protest the culture that permeates Columbia’s men’s athletics teams.” The page also said the messages were a “systemic issue likely exacerbated by our president-elect’s rise.”
Hate crimes have spiked in the US since Donald Trump was elected president on Tuesday, and the Southern Poverty Law Center said there have been more than 200 incidents of harassment and intimidation since the election.
Similar incidents involving discrimination and harassment have also cropped up at other campuses.
On Friday, black students at University of Pennsylvania were unknowingly added to a racial slur-filled GroupMe chat that included a “daily lynching calendar,” prompting an FBI investigation.
Last month, Harvard cancelled its men’s soccer season after it was revealed players created lewd “scouting reports” that rated members of the women’s soccer team based on their attractiveness.