Thursday night in an announcement on the school’s website, Princeton University officials notified the community that the men’s swimming and diving team and its related activities have been suspended “pending a decision about the remainder of the team’s schedule.” The suspension was due to the discovery of racist and misogynistic messages on the team’s listserv, as well as “several materials” that were also objectionable. The messages have not been made public.
This news comes after the men’s soccer team at Harvard had its season canceled in November after a debasing, misogynistic “scouting report” on female soccer recruits was exposed. Last month, in a similar case, the Columbia men’s wrestling team was faced with an investigation for a group chat for the senior members of the team that was filled with sexist, racist and homophobic texts.
According to The New York Times, the fate of the rest of the team’s season will be determined over deliberations “in the next few days.” The team has two meets left in the new year, one against the Naval Academy team and one against Harvard and Yale. The Ivy League Championships are also to be held in late February.
Along with further investigation, Princeton has stated that penalties for the team will include efforts to teach the members of the swimming and diving team, presumably about the severity of their words and action. The team will also have to do some "positive culture building," whatever that means.
It seems as if the University administration has acted quickly, but it remains unclear whether that's because they want to save face, or because they genuinely care about the insidious cultural problems in collegiate athletics. “The behavior that awe have learned about is simply unacceptable,” said Director of Athletics Mollie Marcoux Samaan in the Princeton University statement. “It is antithetical to the values of our athletic program and of the University, and will not be tolerated.”
Samaan said, in addition, that programs exist at Princeton for athletics in particular to combat such behaviors and encourage a community of respect and integrity. “This program uses the bond between coaches and players to foster interactive dialogue and develop skills that promote healthy interpersonal relationships.”
While this is an admirable initiative, it’s likely that something more significant has to be put in place to end the patently offensive behavior from men's sports teams. This has got to stop.