In statements from the school president and athletic director issued Monday, Amherst College announced the suspension of all team activities for its men’s cross country team. The announcement comes one day after the student magazine, The Indicator, published a report that found members of the team being openly racist and misogynistic in a team email chain, much in the vein of Harvard’s men’s soccer and men’s cross country squads.
In its piece, the outlet highlighted an email, sent by a team member to the team email chain, “Friends of Amherst (XC)” on June 14, 2015, detailing the sexual histories and assumed preferences of eight women. The sender included pictures of the women next to their descriptions. The email was meant to serve as an introduction for the team’s incoming freshmen.
The Indicator also turned up emails from 2013-2015 that found members of the team being openly misogynistic and racist while others excused the content as “jokes.” The post by the student news organization did not name the active members of the email chain or their targets; The Indicator posted large sections from the chain detailing the team’s activity. Three days prior to the invasive 2015 sexual histories list, a different team member sent a picture of him between two women accompanied by the following text:
“Here you’ll see me with my main bitch ***** and my side hoe *****. Also notice the bump where my penis should be. That’s my penis. The upperclassmen know not to fuck around with these two lovelies, but freshman be warned: touch either of my meat slabs and I will fucking end you. Especially *****. God knows the little one can’t protect herself.”
Other emails included statements referring to the anti-Redskins team name movement as merely P.C. culture, a question of whether “asians really have horizontal vaginas,” and the widespread criticism of the physical appearance of Amherst’s female population. The report also included a section on a player dismissed from the team in September 2014, in which the sender wrote about the team member’s alleged sexual harassment and drug use, and concluded the statement with “But he’ll be back for indoor…. Right?”
A runner, who, according to the report, has since transferred, criticized the 2015 version of the sexual history list in an responding email, calling it “one of the most fucked up things ive read in a while.” This lead to a team captain responding to the criticism by writing that the list did not represent team culture and that sometimes jokes go over the top. The sender of the 2015 version of the list apologized—according to The Indicator’s review of the email chain, such an act was described as an “anomaly.” For example, the following email was sent by another team captain in response to the criticism:
“I think this topic needs one last serious email before we return the email chain to its normal light hearted manner,” he wrote. “For everyone on here, not just the freshman, please know that most everything said on the email chain is a joke, people will almost always denote when they are being serious on here. Trying to get a laugh out of people can be very hard and very often people go a little too far with their jokes, and I’m not just talking about us here but comedians everywhere. If you type in “comedians in trouble” into google you get tons of hits on comedians who went too far on their jokes. If professional comedians miss the line sometimes it only makes sense that we would too. Offensive jokes are not a reflection of someone’s political or moral code, they are simply a misjudgment. That being said if someone says something that really offends you don’t just let it pass by but please keep in mind the person did not seriously mean what they said.”
You can read the Amherst men’s cross country team apology here.