Amherst men’s cross country on probation, runners suspended over vulgar emails

Monday, January 09, 2017

Members of the Amherst College men’s cross country team will be suspended, and the team will go on probation as a result of an investigation into the team’s misogynistic and racist email and social media exchanges, the school announced on its website Monday.

Amherst investigated claims that the team exchanged messages containing derogatory comments toward women and racial minorities after an article was posted by The Indicator, Amherst’s “student-run commentary magazine.”

The article revealed that, from June 2013 to August 2015, team members had exchanged messages that college President Carolyn “Biddy” Martin characterized as “appalling ... vulgar ... cruel and hateful.”

According to Monday’s statement, “incoming students were encouraged to participate in the exchange of offensive messages as part of their introduction to the team.”

The investigation found varying levels of involvement among team members “with several engaged in the most active and problematic roles, others less active, and others not active at all. Some stood up to teammates with objections to the content of the messages, but no one reported the problems to the coaches, Director of Athletics, or the Office of Student Affairs.”

The school released its statement at 8 p.m. Monday. Director of Athletics Donald Faulstick did not return messages Monday night.

College spokeswoman Caroline Hanna said the college would have no further comment beyond what was included in the statement.

The investigation determined that no current member of the team engaged in criminal misconduct, including sexual assault or illegal drug use.

As a result of the investigation, several individuals will be suspended. The athletic suspensions range from three contests to the duration of the student’s enrollment. The suspended individuals will be required to meet with the dean of student conduct to “discuss options for redressing the harm to the individuals and groups targeted in these messages, to the broader community, and to their fellow team members,” according to the release.

Individuals not currently on the team will also have their actions reviewed by the dean of student conduct.

All cross country team members, except those who enrolled in the fall 2016 or spring 2017 semesters, will be suspended from two indoor track meets. Every member of the cross country team except one competes for the indoor track team.

The team will be on athletics probation for four semesters through the fall of 2018.

All team members will “undergo an educational process determined by Faulstick in consultation with the Office of the Dean of Faculty,” the release said. Suspended team members will also undergo the process as a condition of returning to the team.

The college initially suspended all team activities following the report by the The Indicator.

Former Supreme Judicial Court justice John M. Greaney assisted in the investigation.