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Wrestling Team Releases Letter Of Apology

Following our release of GroupMe messages from seniors on the Wrestling team last week, the team has sent us a letter apologizing for their actions. Addressed to the Columbia community, the letter acknowledges the hurt that the team’s messages caused and expresses remorse for poorly representing the values of the University. The team willingly sent this to us, and they do not make any attempt to justify their actions.

Although the members of the team say that there will be a culture change, we wonder how they will achieve this. While it makes us hopeful that the wrestlers have “gained an entirely new perspective,” we also don’t see a clear plan of how they will take accountability and be better members of the Columbia community.

Edit, 10/18/16 at 11:48am: The wrestling team’s apology letter was comprised of excerpts from individual apology letters by many members of the team.

You can read the full apology letter below:

To the Columbia community:

All of us apologize, without reservation or condition, to all members of the Columbia community for the creation and dissemination of the inappropriate, vulgar and hurtful text messages which have affected so many members of our community and the overall University. In particular, we apologize to our fellow students, the faculty members who teach us, and the campus administrators who work so hard on our behalf.

As a team, we want to make it clear to everyone that we understand the fact that these offensive text messages are inexcusable. These messages do not represent our core values as a program, our coaching staff or the athletics department. We sincerely apologize for the hurtful things that have been said, the damage done to relationships we hold dearly, and the harm this incident has done to Columbia University’s reputation and public image. We are truly very sorry.

We tremendously regret the harm that this has caused the Columbia athletics program; many members of the athletics family dedicate their time to make sure that all student-athletes represent the university in a positive light, and are active and productive members of the university community. We are sorry for betraying their trust and not being mindful of their strong example.

We also apologize to our alumni and supporters, as we have let you down and have disrespected the entire collegiate wrestling community. We apologize to our coaches – for putting them in a difficult position and jeopardizing their professional careers and personal well-being, as these messages do not (and never has) represent them or their values whatsoever.

More importantly, we want all people who were insulted or felt threatened by the messages to know that we could not be more remorseful for the harm that this situation has caused. Our team aspires to be leaders on campus and in our community. We know that we must contribute to campus life in a way that makes everyone feel safe and celebrated regardless of our differences. We are disappointed in ourselves because members of our team stood by as bystanders as opposed to speaking out on behalf of those individuals and groups which were being talked about in such a negative and hostile manner. We will strive to do everything in our power to help everyone feel safe, accepted and valued as all members of the Columbia community should be.

We realize that what was done is extremely wrong. There is no excuse for this behavior. All of us have gained an entirely new perspective on how hurtful the comments made by members of our team truly are. These messages are not just words or playful jokes between teammates. This has been a wake-up call for our team. A culture change was obviously needed – and, rest assured, it will take place. We are prepared for any deserved repercussions from our actions.

Every member of this team has already learned – and will continue to learn – from this experience. We will do our best to contribute to pursuing social justice. We will continue to strive to represent our sport and school which we love with pride and integrity. We ask for your continued understanding, and pledge to be better contributors to the university community.

With respect and humility, we once again offer our sincerest apologies to all for our irresponsible behavior.


The members of the Columbia Wrestling team

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  • After all of this, I still learned says:

    @After all of this, I still learned that these wrestlers have no fundamental understanding of sentence formation and grammatical concepts

    1. anon says:

      @anon an apology is an apology. it’s a good thing that the wrestlers realized they were wrong and had the guts to admit it. move on. it’s not necessary to keep throwing stones

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous This apology is absolute garbage and is so representative of the senior wrestlers on this team. Besides the fact the grammar is absolutely horrific, these students didn’t have the decency to sign their name. I refuse to accept this apology and no one in this community should.

    1. ANON says:

      @ANON Is there no limit to what do you want? They apologized. Move on.

      This was a private conversation. While objectionable, conversations like this happen every minute. Even here at Columbia. At least they recognize the shame and that it’s not normal to express these things in public. There’s little else the school can or should do to them. It is not the responsibility of outsiders to police private activities, doing so will actually make them feel righteous. Making sure public expression of racist or bigoted ideas is shameful and embarrassing is adequate.

    2. Dave Reed says:

      @Dave Reed You comment with such disdain and righteous indignation and yet sign “anonymous”??? LOL… you’re the joke!

      If you refuse to accept a heartfelt apology from the entire team (btw the way, the underclassmen had nothing to do with this, yet still had the balls to apologize, showing unity as a team and accepting responsibility as such for the actions of a few members), perhaps you’d be willing to turn in your phone to BWOG with all passwords and social media logins?

      BTW, I’m sure you’ve never been on a team, but they apologized as one, so if you need names, just look at the roster.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Sorry that you did it or sorry that you got caught?

  • Trying to Open My Heart says:

    @Trying to Open My Heart I appreciate the apology. I would have appreciated a direct denunciation of the explicit RACISM and SEXISM in the messages, but I suppose that would have been tricky to tackle. I hope you really understand why we were all horrified in hearing you call us the N word and saying you hoped we would be sexually assaulted. I still feel a clenching pain in my chest when I think about it. Please address exactly what it is that makes you see other human beings this way. But for now, thank you for taking this first step.

  • Merriam-Webster: Trump Edition says:

    @Merriam-Webster: Trump Edition Just why use tremendously? There are so many other adverbs out there… Either it’s an explicit Trump reference or a subconscious accident from too much Trump.

  • So sick of self righteous people says:

    @So sick of self righteous people These young men have had their privacy violated . Why is that being totally ignored in this issue???? Those texts were private messages that were stolen and leaked by a jealous person seeking vindication. That is illegal, immoral and disgusting. Shame on every self righteous person condemning them. Open all your private correspondences and let’s see how squeaky clean you are. So ridiculous that such a fuss is being made over the wrong issue here.

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous Exactly. The hacking and leaking and publishing their private conversations is a much worse crime. You cannot hack, tape, record people without their consent.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous To the anonymous wrestler in the comments,

    I do not wish to attack you, but rather to make you question the long-established ideas that you have of these words. You probably grew up in an environment where these words were casually thrown around, even within the groups to which the words are directly harmful. I personally know tha it is extremely difficult to accept that your entire hometown and your friends and your family and your have using fundamentally harmful language. I also know that being attacked from every direction right now sucks and is causing you to be naturally defensive. It’s shameful that so many people criticize you with no goal but to harm your image. You have unfortunately done that yourself. Believe me I know, because I’ve been in a very similar situation. When nobody even attempted to reach me and help me understand the seriousness of my harmful language, but rather yelled at me for being a bad person, I obviously didn’t get it. This is also not a discussion about your privacy, that is a trivial point. Whether it was right or wrong for these messages to have been spread is a separate matter. This is instead about yourself and the fact that you now are forced to make a big decision. I’m sure you do not wish harm on anyone. I have faith that you are a good and moral person and that you would never attempt to harm someone, and that your usage of these words reveals a lack of awareness. Being born in an environment that is socially conservative where these words are casual and humorous words like any other is something that many of the people attacking you cannot even begin to conceive. But that is the direct cause of this grave misunderstanding. You may not have had the power of these words proven to you in the past, but now you have been made aware, and you really are forced to make a decision which will reflect greatly on your character. I sincerely hope you are open about this and that you come to terms with the fact that the people which used these words around you as grew up aren’t bad people, but rather they have never had anyone explain to them the power of the words they use. You are fortunate that you have the opportunity to improve yourself. I encourage you to explore these issues with everyone. Seek to understand where the victims of your words come from, and how they are affected. Seek to understand why the entire community is not ok with this. Please do not dismiss this issue as an overreaction. Please do not close your mind, even if you believe that you have been wronged. Please for this is what will truly reflect on yourself, and on the Columbia community. It will require significant effort, but you will earn back respect from the entire community. Much more importantly, you will grow to be a more understanding and compassionate person in the end.

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous Let me ask you … you listen to rap music?…does the use of the “N” word and the degradation of women offend you in this context?….if it does not, then it is you who needs to explore their values

  • Cap10 says:

    @Cap10 This was national news briefly. And this is an open comment section, and there are 18 responses. First, wow on that.

    Perhaps your 15 minutes is up, BWOG editors. Did you get all your jollies publishing this? Taking down the big bad jocks? I can imagine the gleam in your eyes when you realized what you had. Was there even real discussion about whether it was ethical to publish the texts? The wrestlers have now apologized, now how about the privacy invading rat fink who gave you the texts, and then you yourselves?

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