Category: Athletics

Remington Free/Senior Graphics Editor

In a letter submitted to Bwog late Thursday evening, the Columbia Wrestling Team has written an apology in response to the discovery of messages from the 2017 team member’s GroupMe that contained explicit, degrading content targeting various groups of people.

The full message can be found 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.

Remorsefully,

The members of the Columbia Wrestling team

 

The original letter can be found on Bwog’s website.

Meet Katie Meili. Meili, a Columbia College alumna and competitive swimmer hails from Colleyville, Texas. This past summer, Meili won a gold medal for swimming the preliminary heats of the 4 x 100 relay and a bronze medal in the 100 meter breast stroke at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. We sat down with her to learn more about her background in swimming and how her time at Columbia has influenced her athletic career.

How did you originally get involved with swimming?

I started competitive swimming when I was 8. My older sister, Maureen, and I both did gymnastics but she had a bad ankle injury when she was 13 and I was 8. Her doctor suggested swimming for physical therapy and since I wanted to do everything my sister did, my mom signed us both up for the summer league swim team. The rest is history!
Did your time at Columbia impact how you swim?
Absolutely! I always say that I would not be the swimmer I am if I had not attended Columbia. Columbia made me into the person I am and I so loved and appreciated my time there. Swimming at Columbia set me on the path I needed to be on to get to where I am now. I met all the people I needed to meet, especially my coaches at Columbia – Diana Caskey and Michael Sabala, and I interacted with the sport the way I needed to – with joy and appreciation. My time at Columbia didn’t just impact the way I swim now, it created everything!
How do you clear your mind/focus before you compete in a race?
Before I race, I like my mind to be completely clear. When I step up on the blocks, I tell myself that all the work has been done and that my body knows how to accomplish the task at hand. I get to turn my brain off and race completely free. It’s an amazing feeling!
What were you most excited about getting ready for Rio? What was life in the Olympic Village and the Games Like?
I was most excited for small things that hold a big meaning to me personally. Wearing my Ralph Lauren opening ceremonies outfit (something I have wanted to have since I was a young girl); getting my American flag cap with my name on it; swimming in a pool with the Olympic Rings hanging above it. Those are the things that make you take a step back and think, “Wow, I actually made it here”, and those small moments are my favorite.
Life in the Olympic Village was amazing! I loved seeing and meeting people from all over the world, and getting to see a glimpse of their cultures and customs. To me, the Olympics are about the World coming together in a peaceful way to celebrate our similarities and our differences as human beings. It’s a beautiful event that holds significance in every culture in the World. It’s unique and important and I could feel that power everywhere.
How did you react/feel upon realizing you medaled in two different events?
I was so full of joy! I always dreamed of going to the Olympics and winning a medal but I never actually thought it would happen. It’s impossible to put in words what it feels like to have a dream of that magnitude come true. I smile every time I hold my medals in my hands. They mean so much to me… hard work and sacrifice, but also all the people that helped me along the way (and there are SO many). Those medals belong to my family, friends, teammates, coaches, and supporters just as much as they belong to me.
Do you think you will be swimming in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics? 
I have not made a final decision on Tokyo yet. Right now, I’m just enjoying the experience from Rio!
What was the greatest challenge you faced as a swimmer?
When you’re trying to be the best in the World at something by the smallest of margins, you have to have an extreme sense on non-complacency. Every day in practice, you have to want to be better, do more, try harder, etc. Even when you do something great, you have to have the attitude that it’s not quite good enough and that you still need to improve. That kind of attitude and approach is necessary for any type of success, but too much of it can get exhausting and can be detrimental. For me, finding the right balance to use that attitude to my advantage was the greatest challenge I faced swimming at this level.
What advice would you give to current student athletes?
Stay focused and if you have a dream or a goal, even if it seems out of reach, don’t be afraid to chase it. Ask for help along the way!
 —
Interested in interviewing students and alumni about how their time at Columbia has shaped their experiences and outlook? Join The Lion Profiles team by sending an email to team@columbialion.com.

At tonight’s Basketball Mania event hosted by Columbia Athletics, the Women’s Basketball team thought it was a good idea to include in their dance performance what essentially amounts to a 15 second modern minstrel show.

The fetishization, sexualisation, and degradation of black women’s bodies is nothing new (see: Saartjie Baartman / any discussion of Serena Williams’ femininity / etc) but its shocking that people are still so brazen about it. We already know that black features are only desirable when appropriated by non-black people (cc: Kylie).

It is unsurprising that a team made up of mostly white players — I know there’s a black girl on the team, but that doesn’t mean they’re not racist — would not find any problems with this performance of blackness, but I’m going to need for everyone to take a step back and at least ~*pretend*~ to try and to not devalue members of the community for like 2 weeks at least. Let a girl get through these midterms.

A video of the performance can be found here.

The Lion is the only campus publication that pledges to post all pieces submitted to the site. To respond to this piece, email submissions@columbialion.com.