Approximately 80 students gathered at the Dodge Fitness Center on Monday night to protest Columbia's wrestling team.
After messages from a racially and sexually explicit group chat among senior wrestlers surfaced on Thursday, the University opened an investigation into the group chat. The team's season has been suspended until the University concludes its investigation, a spokesperson confirmed on Monday.
Protesters, holding signs depicting the explicit messages sent by the wrestlers as well as banners reading "Not My Wrestling Team" entered Dodge and stood in silence for nearly two hours, until they moved to the steps of Low Library.
At Low Library, the protesters read their demands, which included that the University issue a public statement regarding the group chat and remove all wrestlers involved from the team.
The protesters also demanded that each wrestler involved issue a public apology, that Bwog release the names of the wrestlers involved in the chat, and asked that Kappa Delta Rho fraternity issue a statement regarding the incident.
Throughout the protest, students uninvolved in the demonstration continued to enter and exit Dodge. Several stopped to read the signs. Some students were aware of the protest, while others were visibly surprised.
Sophia Strachan, CC '19, who passed by the protesters as she left Dodge, had known about the protest before leaving the gym, but said she was still surprised by her own reaction to the demonstration.
"I briefly read about it online, but to see so many people is moving I thought it was awful before I came, but it just reinforces that," Strachan said.
Jet Harper, BC '19, who participated in the protest, intended for the protesters' presence to be a rejection of the wrestlers' behavior, and hopes that the University will take a similar stance.
"The University should not condone this kind of behavior, and if we don't take action, people will think it is OK," Harper said.
Other protesters echoed Harper's sentiments. Nina Zweig, CC '19, fears that the wrestlers may not be held to the same standards as other students and hopes that the protest will lead to punitive action against them.
"I would like to see some actual disciplinary action happen, and I know that sometimes athletes end up being protected because of their athletic status. I know that is a bit taboo to say, but it definitely does happen, so I would just like to see them get treated just like any other student would," Zweig said.
Willy Hall, CC '20, a member of the track team, stood outside of Dodge and observed the protest. Hall was ambivalent about joining the protest, and had come to learn more about the protesters' perspectives.
"I definitely understand why people are angry about the wrestling team, because a lot of that stuff is pretty messed up and not OK, but I feel like that is where we have to come together instead of separating," Hall said.
Several current and former athletes participated in the protest, including Lorenzo Bradford, CC '17, a former football player and a member of KDR.
"People are acting as though you either have to take the side of athletes or take the side of protestors, when these should all be people that are fighting against the same exact issues," Bradford said.
Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that protestors demanded that Kappa Delta Rho lose their house.