The first public comment from administrators responding to the alleged hate crime and offensive tweets by members of the football team came earlier today. Since then, several more administrators and groups on campus have responded:In an email at 12:45 p.m., the Office of Multicultural Affairs emailed some, but not all, undergraduates, urging them to reach out to the OMA or Student Affairs for support. In an email at 2:59 p.m., Athletic Director M. Dianne Murphy and football head coach Pete Mangurian condemned "the language and sentiment expressed online by a select few Columbia student-athletes" and said that they are addressing the behavior with the individuals involved. In a statement at 4:56 p.m., the Asian American Alliance, with 47 other student groups co-signing, said that the University must "see this incident as a result of broader systemic issues of racism on our campus and in our society" and urged the community "to create radical anti-oppression, anti-hate and anti-violence programs throughout the university to combat a culture which can lead to these types of incidents." A petition, now with
Office of Multicultural Affairs
Dear Students, Thank you to those who were able to meet with me yesterday. By now, you probably have read the email from our undergraduate deans and director of Columbia Athletics. We want to affirm that we are here for everyone who has been impacted, particularly those in our campus community who may feel particularly targeted. We acknowledge that moments as this bring to the surface the long and complicated history of how racism has impacted people of Asian and Pacific Islander descent, particularly in this country. We hope that the Office of Multicultural Affairs and all of our Student Affairs colleagues can be a support and resource for you. Please also know our colleagues across the University and your fellow students, including your advising deans and RAs, also are here to offer support and any assistance needed. Particularly through collaborative programming and work through the Office of Multicultural Affairs and Student Affairs, we hope in partnerships with students to continue educating our whole community about and addressing systemic oppression, social responsibility, and accountability to each other. Sincerely, Dean Aquino Office of Multicultural Affairs Division of Student Affairs
Dear students, In addition to joining the statement sent to you earlier by Columbia's undergraduate deans, we feel that it is important for us to address the campus community directly and independently. Our athletics program is greatly disappointed by the language and sentiment expressed online by a select few Columbia student-athletes. These comments are not representative of the more than 700 Columbia undergraduate students who participate in our athletics program, or the coaches, administrators and staff who serve the University and our campus community. Columbia Athletics is steadfast in its support of, and appreciation for, diversity on campus and in the world around us. Personal expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, anti-Semitism and any other form of bigotry are abhorrent. This is disheartening and embarrassing for everyone involved. We respect and support the University's goals and ideals of acceptance and tolerance of all members of the campus community. We are addressing this inexcusable behavior with the individuals involved. We will also address this with each of our 31 varsity teams. All of our coaches, administrators and staff understand and appreciate how important it is for everyone on campus to communicate and work together in a civil and respectful manner. We are working closely with our campus partners to make sure that we are diligent and proactive in our response to this matter. The athletics program is committed to providing additional resources to continue to educate our student-athletes about the importance of respect, civility and inclusivity in everything we do. Moving forward, we will continue to reinforce these important values that are so vital to our University community. On behalf of the members of the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics and Physical Education and the Columbia Football program, we offer our sincere apologies to members of the greater Columbia community. M. Dianne Murphy, Director, Intercollegiate Athletics and Physical Education Pete Mangurian, Patricia and Shepard Alexander Head Coach of Football
AAA and 56 co-signers
According to several news sources, an alleged hate crime occurred on Columbia University's campus involving a number of Columbia students on Sunday, May 5, in which one student, a Black male athlete, allegedly called another, an Asian male, racial slurs and pushed him against a wall. As a consequence of the incident, the suspect faces criminal charges. Columbia's Asian American Alliance (AAA), along with a number of student leaders from across campus, have submitted statements to the Columbia University administration regarding our concerns and urging the university to take action. Furthermore, a number of us have met with members of the administration to discuss these concerns and urge the administration to act accordingly. We are thankful that the administration has been very responsive to our needs and are hopeful that they will continue to address the situation in a timely and thoughtful manner. We are deeply concerned about the environment maintained on our campus. This is not an isolated event, nor should the perpetrator of this incident be treated as an anomaly. The fact that this incident occurred points to a systemic culture of hateful speech and action on Columbia's campus, of which this incident is merely the latest manifestation. We are also concerned about the racial dynamics of this incident. Anti-Asian racism is often socially dismissed through rhetoric such as the Model Minority Myth, “honorary whiteness,” and claims of post-racialism all false ideas that serve to undercut and diminish the continued challenges that Asians face. We must also acknowledge that much of this rhetoric has hinged on particularly violent and pervasive ideas of anti-Blackness. Any form of minority-on-minority racism or discrimination represents a missed opportunity for solidarity across communities of color. In order to fight shared systems of oppression, it is important for the Asian community and the Black community to be in solidarity. We must see this incident as a result of broader systemic issues of racism on our campus and in our society, and not vilify individuals involved in this specific case, or the communities those individuals represent. Furthermore, there have been reports that this incident began with harassment against women. We cannot verify the validity of these reports at this time. However, even if this incident did not begin with instances of misogyny, we cannot diminish actions of sexism and misogyny by juxtaposing them against a race based hate crime. Racism, sexism, homophobia, and other kinds of hatred and violence based on identity or social position reinforce one another. When we ignore or pardon sexual harassment in the face of “more egregious” incidents, it can serve as a catalyst to other hate crimes, like anti-Asian racism. Similarly, ignoring racist slurs and hateful speech can be a catalyst for sexual violence. If we gloss over any incident of hate, we risk perpetuating all practices of hate. We cannot tolerate any instance or any culture of racism, misogyny, homophobia, ableism, classism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and other kinds of hate and violence on and off our campus. We must take concrete steps to fight this pervasive and harmful culture. Appreciating diversity is not enough; diversity for diversity's sake is not a strength but merely a statistic. We need to honestly examine the way that real patterns of oppression continue to exist and thrive in the structures of our campus community, and confront them with both dialogue and action. The presence of multiple colors, identities, and creeds in our community is meaningless until all students stand in solidarity against racism, sexism, homophobia, and other forms of identity based discrimination and violence. The Columbia administration and its programs, as well as the student body, must be held accountable to create radical anti-oppression, anti-hate and anti-violence programs throughout the university to combat a culture which can lead to these types of incidents. Some of the most tangible ways in which we can do this are through anti-oppression and anti-hate education. We hope that in the coming months and semesters, the University will work with us to discuss and implement stronger programs and policies to combat this culture of hate and violence. We also encourage our fellow students to have open, honest, and respectful dialogue about this incident. We will be working with the administration to open up spaces in which this dialogue can take place safely and positively, as well as creating forums to discuss the broader culture of racism, sexism, hate, and violence on our campus. During this time, and through the coming weeks, we hope that the Columbia community and anyone experiencing any kind of hate and violence knows that they are not alone. We stand in solidarity with the victim of this attack, just as we stand in solidarity with the survivors of other forms of abuse that happen daily on this campus and in our society. To all of those that have reached out to us in the past few days, we deeply appreciate all of the support and encouragement. Signed, Columbia Asian American Alliance (AAA) In Support (Updated May 9, 6:30 PM) Activities Board at Columbia (ABC) Barnard Student Governing Association Incoming Executive Board 2013-14 (SGA) Barnard Student Governing Association Outgoing Executive Board 2012-13 (SGA) Black Students Organization (BSO) Casa Latina Chicano Caucus of Columbia University Chinese Students Club (CSC) Club Q Club Zamana Columbia Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (APAHM) Columbia Baha'i Club Columbia College Student Council Incoming Executive Board 2012-13 (CCSC) Columbia College Student Council Outgoing Executive Board 2012-2013 (CCSC) Columbia International Relations Council and Association (CIRCA) Columbia Japan Society (CJS) Columbia Kappa Phi Lambda (KPL) Columbia Lambda Phi Epsilon (LFE) Columbia Liberty in North Korea (CU LiNK) Columbia Political Union (CPU) Columbia Por Colombia Columbia Queer Alliance (CQA) Columbia Sewa (Sikh Students Association) Columbia Student Global AIDS Campaign Columbia Student Wellness Project Columbia University Democrats Columbia University Scholar Chapter of Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF) Columbia/Barnard Hillel Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Rho Chapter East Coast Asian American Student Union Board (ECAASU) Engineering Student Council Incoming Exec Board 2013-14 (ESC) Engineering Student Council Outgoing Exec Board 2012-13 (ESC) Everyone Allied Against Homophobia (EAAH) GendeRevolution General Studies Student Council Outgoing Executive Board 2012-13 (GSSC) General Studies Student Council Incoming Executive Board 2013-14 (GSSC) Hindu Students Organization (HSO) Hong Kong Students and Scholars Society (HKSSS) InterPublications Alliance (IPA) Korean Students Association (KSA) Lucha Mu Chapter of Phi Iota Alpha Multicultural Business Association (MBA) Muslim Student Association (MSA) Native American Council (NAC) New York City Asian American Student Conference (NYCAASC) Proud Colors Sigma Lambda Beta International Fraternity, Inc., Epsilon Delta Chapter Society of Asian Soul Sisters (SASS) Southeast Asian Development & Service (SEADS) Southeast Asian League (SEAL) Student Governing Board Outgoing Executive Board 2012-2013 (SGB) Student Governing Board Incoming Executive Board 2013-2014 (SGB) Student Organization of Latinos Taiwanese American Student Associations (TASA) TALK Magazine The Residents of the Intercultural Resource Center (IRC)
We, the undersigned students of Columbia University, were angered by the e-mail sent out by Columbia Athletics earlier today. Although we acknowledge that athletics recognizes and respects the diversity of its student body and that such actions that have been profiled in the news are not reflective of all athletes, we are troubled by the fact that Athletics, as an institution, is not doing enough to remedy the actions of its players. In the e-mail sent on May 9, 2013, Athletics wrote: "We are addressing this inexcusable behavior with the individuals involved. We will also address this with each of our 31 varsity teams." This is a commendable action, but it is not enough. Diversity education and programming is important and should already be a part of the resources available to all athletes, but the athletes responsible should be punished for their actions. The e-mail delivered to the student body, instead, should have read: "Players X, Y, and Z have been removed from the roster because of their despicable actions." That would have been a true testament to Athletic's commitment to diversity and progress. It is also troubling that the head coach of the Football Team, Pete Mangurian, had access to a number of derogatory tweets written by his players. It may be possible that the head coach never read his twitter feed, but nonetheless, it is concerning that there is the possibility that the Head Coach of an NCAA Division I team could have read those statements and let them pass without recourse. The expected solutions to the issue are unacceptable. This does not mean a reprimand or an official apology from them. This does not mean extra laps or physical punishments administered by the coaches and athletics staff. This does not mean sensitivity training. This means the suspension and removal of these athletes from the rosters of their respective teams and an announcement of such an action to the Columbia community. This also means the removal of awards and accolades presented to these athletes by Columbia Athletics. Our fear is that once this issue has passed and the athletes have been "addressed," they will again be permitted to play and represent our student body. They have shown and proven that they are incapable of doing so.
Second petition, from council/governing board leaders
This week the Columbia community encountered startling revelations regarding the Columbia football program and what appears to be racist, homophobic, and anti-Semitic actions and public statements on the part of individual student athletes. On Sunday morning, an Asian student was allegedly assaulted by a fellow student and member of the Columbia football team. Though specifics remain unclear, the victim alleges that the student athlete physically intimidated and assaulted him while yelling racial slurs. Since news of the incident broke, it was discovered that various student athletes on the football team have published unacceptable statements and jokes that range from racist to homophobic to anti-Semitic on Twitter. These statements are unacceptable for any student to make, but are particularly egregious when considering that student athletes are meant to represent the best of Columbia both on and off the field. Revelations of the unacceptable tweets have raised serious concerns about the culture and atmosphere within Columbia's football program and Athletics Department. Many members of the Columbia community are concerned that an important part of the University might not meet the standards of conduct we expect of all Columbia students. It is unclear whether or not the administrative or coaching faculty knew of this conduct and whether any remedial actions were taken with such knowledge. Little is known of the culture and accountability mechanisms currently in place in the Athletics Department, and in the past days rumor and speculation have run rampant throughout the University. It is important that these matters are considered by the administration with the utmost seriousness. When weighty controversies have arisen in the past, administrative response, reporting, and action has been inconsistent at best. We, the undersigned, propose the following concrete steps to address these serious concerns and allegations in the fairest and most transparent way possible, and to provide a public blueprint for how the administration and student body should proceed. We urge the administration to seriously investigate and evaluate what factors led to the events and postings that have disturbed the Columbia community this week, and to determine whether or not these events are endemic of a wider culture or represent isolated incidents on the part of specific individuals. While we hope that these events will cultivate an important long term conversation about race, conduct, and bigotry on Columbia's campus, we propose the following immediate action items for the administration to pursue going forward: An independent commission should be formed as soon as possible by the offices of the President and Provost to investigate whether or not systems of accountability for situations like this exist in the University, and how these systems, if they do exist, failed in the case of the Athletics Department and the football program. The commission should be headed by a panel of tenured senior faculty and students from all four undergraduate schools. The commission should be tasked with hiring an outside investigator to determine what specific incidents have occurred within the Athletics Department and the football program, what culture existed in the program and the department, and what structures were in place to deal with bias either by the players or department faculty. The commission should investigate any postings by student athletes on public social media forums that could be designated as racist, homophobic, or anti-Semitic. The commission should determine whether the posts are egregious, unacceptable, and/or represent a pattern of public behavior. Next, the commission should evaluate the culture within the Athletics Department and the football program, determining if the statements were contained to select athletes, or if a culture existed within the program that allowed the statements to exist as a part of an endemic problem. The commission should evaluate the coaching and administrative staff and faculty in the Athletics Department and the football program, determining what role they played in creating, sustaining, and/or tolerating such a culture. They should also determine if faculty were aware of any unacceptable tweets or social media postings and how they addressed those issues. Based on their findings, the commission should make recommendations for changes in the structure, accountability mechanisms, and culture of the Athletics Department. The commission should make recommendations pertaining to the status of any faculty member or student athlete member of the Athletics Department and the football program based on what facts they uncover. The commission should have overriding authority to interview any faculty member or student athlete pertinent to the investigation. They should have access to any evidence pertaining to the investigation, including but not limited to emails, social media postings, and any other written or oral evidence. The commission should be required to issue a single public report to the administration and the Columbia community documenting their findings and recommendations by July 31, 2013. The offices of the President and Provost should issue a public report by August 30, 2013 detailing steps taken in response to the commission's report, including but not limited to disciplinary measures, faculty changes, departmental restructuring, and the creation of accountability mechanisms. In the past, similar controversies have been addressed by the administration internally and without transparency. It is our hope that this action plan will serve as a roadmap for creating consistent, fair, and transparent guidelines for any similar events that unfortunately might arise in the future. This issue matters to the undersigned alumni, students, faculty, and other concerned members of the Columbia community. If we as a community insist on fairness, accountability, and transparency when dealing with such matters, we will further strengthen the fabric of this great university.
Earlier today Dianne Murphy and I wrote a letter to the University community. This is my opportunity to share my personal thoughts on my blog. I am offended and disappointed with the remarks made by our players online. This is not who we are. Right now I'm concerned with who is just saying incredibly inappropriate things and who has a real social problem. The outcome is the same, the perception is the same, but my concern is the cure may not be the same. I want to cure this illness. There is no place for it on our team or anywhere else. I will not single out anyone; that has already been done. The actions of a few affect everyone who touches this program. When the headline reads “A Columbia Football Player”, that includes everyone. Obviously we have addressed the players and their twitter accounts. It is not the first time we have addressed this issue. We met as a team during training camp, and were very clear about our expectations and standards. The team was addressed by the sports information staff. I was present and signed off on the presentation. The majority of the team understood, and did, what they were asked to do. Others did not. I didn't feel that it was necessary to check back that our players understood our expectations for them. Obviously, I was wrong. The inappropriate nature of the comments is second to the motivation and social perspective that generated them. I really think there are two issues here; the response to each should be different. There are circumstances here that are important to keep in mind. While there is a penalty component to these actions, there is an educational component as well. Regarding the offensive tweets: some of these statements were made before these players were part of our team. It would seem that our team meetings concerning appropriate use of social media and being responsible members of the University community were effective with those young men. Some of these tweets were made by players, that for reasons other than this particular incident, are no longer on this team. Finally, there are some players that are a part of our team and therefore warrant our immediate, and from this point on, ongoing attention. I do not believe that it is my place or that of anyone at the University to monitor everything our players say privately or publicly. I thought that I could expect our players to use much greater responsibility in how they speak and act. This is what is so disappointing to me. I want to make sure whatever action we take is meaningful. I believe we can and should address this from a team wide perspective in addition to dealing with individual cases. There are programs that address and educate on these types of issues. I am reluctant to use a “cookie cutter” approach. I want to find the most effective program I can. I want there to be a human element to these actions. Respect is born from humility. Obviously in some cases we have lacked both. As individuals we need to interact with, or directly involve ourselves with, the community of people to whom we have shown such insensitivity. That will be far more effective than a lecture program. I am currently in the process of making sure that happens. Finally, I have taken disciplinary action in cases that I feel involve a legitimate social issue as opposed to the immaturity and bad judgment that goes along with making highly inappropriate and disrespectful statements. I apologize to the Columbia community for this embarrassment. Some will see this as a referendum on our entire team. What I say or do will not change their opinion, and that is alright. I am more concerned with this program's responsibility to produce young men that reflect the values of the Columbia community as a whole. I have said before that our program will ultimately be judged by the kind of people we send out into the world. I remain committed to that statement. If we do the things to make sure that happens, the rest will take care of itself.