Amherst College suspends men’s cross country team activities over ‘racist, misogynist’ emails

Students walk on the campus of Amherst College.
Students walk on the campus of Amherst College. –Matthew Cavanaugh for The Boston Globe

Amherst College has suspended all activities for its men’s cross country team after a student-run publication reported members of the team sent “racist, misogynist, and homophobic messages” to new recruits, the president and athletic director announced in statements Sunday.

President Biddy Martin and Athletic Director Don Faulstick wrote in posts on the school’s website that an investigation into the messages is underway.

“The exchanges and the behavior described in the article–which team members acknowledge–are disgusting,” Faulstick wrote. “They have no place on our sports teams or anywhere at our College. They violate the “zero-tolerance” standard toward bigotry of any kind that we explicitly set for our athletes.”

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The president of the liberal arts school in Western Massachusetts condemned the emails, which she said were meant to “welcome” the incoming recruits to the team’s culture.

“The messages are appalling,” Martin said in her statement. “They are not only vulgar, they are cruel and hateful. No attempt to rationalize them will change that. My reaction is one of profound sadness, disappointment, and anger.”

The college magazine The Indicator reported Sunday that a team-wide email, sent on June 14, 2015, to incoming first-year recruits, contained a list of women and described their assumed sexual histories and proclivities, to welcome the team’s newest members.

According to the magazine, the email is one entry in a series sent during the summer of 2015 and is part of a trend that spans back to at least 2013.

Harvard University canceled its men’s soccer season last month after a review by the school found that a sexually explicit “scouting report” created by the 2012 team continued beyond that season into the current year.

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