Princeton University Men’s Swimming and Diving Team Suspended for Racist, Sexist, Offensive Emails

The Princeton University men’s swimming and diving team has been  suspended after school officials were alerted about content on the school-sponsored men’s swimming and diving team listserv and other materials that were vulgar, offensive, misogynistic and racist, the university announced Thursday night.

Princeton University Director of Athletics Mollie Marcoux Samaan and head swimming coach Rob Orr suspended the season pending a decision about the remainder of the team’s schedule.

“We make clear to all of our student-athletes that they represent Princeton University at all times, on and off the playing surface and in and out of season, and we expect appropriate, respectful conduct from them at all times,” Samaan said. “The behavior that we have learned about is simply unacceptable. It is antithetical to the values of our athletic program and of the University, and will not be tolerated.”

“Samaan reviewed the situation with Orr, and they decided to suspend the season, and all associated team activities, effective immediately.

“In the coming days we will make a determination about the status of the team’s remaining schedule and we also will work collaboratively to determine additional actions aimed at education and positive culture building for the team,” Samaan said.

The team is currently scheduled for two remaining meets versus Navy on Jan. 7 and versus Harvard and Yale on Feb. 5, along with the Ivy League Championships Feb. 22-25.

“The athletics department and the University are committed to providing an inclusive environment free from harassment and intimidation and characterized by mutual respect and concern for the well-being of others,” Samaan said.

“In recent years we have worked closely with Princeton’s SHARE office  to provide educational and training programs for our students and our staff. One program developed by SHARE in conjunction with my office is SCORRE,” she said. “This program uses the bond between coaches and players to foster interactive dialogue and develop skills that promote healthy interpersonal relationships. Its modules cover such topics as respect, integrity, language, consent, and bystander intervention. We have also developed a program that will be introduced next month that focuses on the responsible and productive use of social media. We will continue to focus on such programs as well as redouble our ongoing efforts to achieve our primary goal, which is education through athletics.”

In April 0f 2015 the Princeton men’s swimming and diving team was at the center of another controversy after a video of a performance by a group called Urban Congo caused an outcry on social media for being insensitive to African culture. Many of the members of the group belonged to the swimming and diving team.

A similar situation took place at Harvard University last fall. In November, the Harvard Athletic Department decided to cancel the remainder of the 2016 men’s soccer season after the Harvard Crimson reported that players produced sexually explicit scouting reports about Harvard women’s soccer recruits.


  1. As reprehensible as the behavior alluded to may be, these were apparently emails between individuals?

    1. Nothing’s beyond the reach of the thought police these days. Hopefully that will start to change…

      1. Your thoughts have been duly noted and archived 🙂

        On a more serious note I suggest waiting for more details before deciding whether Princeton University overreacted. The article simply does not provide enough information to make this call, and we may never know what the actual objectionable content was, given the privacy rights of the individuals involved.

        1. Assuming the ring wing media applauds racism and sexism 24/7, which it does not, how does that constitute being the “thought police.” If it were to happen, it would be the opposite. I think you might want to look into that term and how it evolved.

    2. Imagine a situation where several employees are talking privately about some action that would embarrass their boss or the company. Then one of them spills the beans to the boss or the boss finds out by accident. What would happen? My guess is that somebody would get fired or demoted.

      1. As you said below, there is not sufficient information in this article. We have no idea who said what to whom in what forum.

        That the remainder of the season has been cancelled, regardless how small that might be, it is hard to imagine the university has not overreacted. In your example, “somebody” would be demoted. In this case, the entire team and support staff, as well as the teams they would have faced, have been demoted.

        1. I have no idea what was said or posted. I can imagine situations when this cancellation would be warranted, as well as when it would not be. There is likely a gray area as well where different reasonable people would reach a different conclusion.

          It is not clear from the article if the rest of the season is cancelled. It seems that they have suspended it and are thinking about canceling it.

          You have a valid objection when it comes to punishing all of the members of the team (and to some extent the opponents) and am wondering why they chose to use the cancellation of the remainder of the season as the punishment. It is possible that the University does not want to publicize the names of the students who posted the offensive material to keep it an internal matter. It would not be possible to do so if they were, for example, to specifically exclude some members from traveling with the team.

          It may well be that in the coming days the University officials will get a better handle on the facts and decide to punish the specific members. Then, again, maybe they won’t.

    3. No they were not “between individuals”. They were on a listserv, which means, it went to the entire team. Not good.

      1. That makes the offense egregious, but does it implicate all who received the massage as equal to the sender?

  2. At PHS you can play Holocaust beer pong while drinking underage but at the university you can’t send a crude email.

    1. At some point you will be requested to grow up. For my children it was well before High School, apparently in Princeton you can wait until University.

      1. Is it possible that males get more intensely scrutinized for offensive speech than females do? Is it possible that whites get stricter rules for offensive speech than blacks get? I don’t know of any actual scientific study that has been done on these and similar subjects. Maybe someone should devise some sort of statistically derived index on how much speech freedom the average member of various demographic groups have, and then do some sort of study to determine their values. It would be interesting to see which groups get imposed on the most, by whom, and why.

        1. I would tend to believe your suggestions, but the “studies” I have seen have been so poorly constructed as to be meaningless.

          1. It sounds like the researchers who did those studies didn’t really want to find the answers, but only credit for having “looked” for them.

  3. If it was group behavior, then IMO there should be more repercussions than just missing some meets. It’s “hate” behavior, sorry, and these young men know good and well that it’s bad and they clearly think that it’s okay to do it anyway. There needs to be a consequence, especially if this involved team-wide emails (via a listserv as suggested in the article).

    1. We don’t know what the behavior was, only that it was reported as misogynist and racist. I still support Innocent until proven guilty, and at this point all we are viewing are vague accusations.

      1. Doesn’t seem to have slowed down Bill Clinton or Donald Trump. They can act this way all their lives and still be presidents.

  4. It would be interesting to know the contents of the emails, or, at least, the nature and tone of the comments.

    I wonder where they would register on, say, the First Lady’s outrage meter. If like, Mrs. Obama, the University has a low bar, they may be somewhat benign.

    That Trump/Billy Bush tape – the subject of Mrs. Obama’s public lecture – was pretty benign. At least relative to many of the lyrics written by the rappers the White House had to a state dinner a couple of nights after her righteous indignation.

    Like the Trump – Bush tape, the swimmers’ communications were private. The rappers lyrics are, of course, public and objectify women in extremely crude – one could say pornographic – ways. And worse, they are marketed to impressionable young men. These “artists” have made fortunes off of this garbage.

    I hope the University is being reasonable and realistic in judging the comments and not employing “selective outrage” like our leaders do.

      1. But, the rappers have much, much, more influence on our youth than any Presidential candidate. It’s not even close. And much of the material in their “songs” is mysoginistic in the extreme.

        If we are really concerned about our youth, as the FLOTUS professes to be, then honoring these entertainers by extending to them an invitation to a state dinner – a scarce commodity indeed – legitimizes their output and defeats that goal.

        I found Mrs. Obama’s remarks hypocritical. It’s was ironic that she was praised for them.

        1. Look, just because one misogynist got elected President, doesn’t mean that others get a free pass. Let’s keep it focused on the issue at hand, shall we?

    1. Maybe Mrs. Obama was using the Trump tape as an excuse to host the foul-mouthed rappers and express her “righteous indignation.” Although it might not be related, I have noticed that FLOTUS and flatus differ by only one letter.

  5. I’m sure the punishment warrants the crime… this is a university, not the office of the president.

  6. Meanwhile, at the University of Minnesota, the university administration suspended 10 black football players who carried out a gang rape of a female student. However, they did not suspend the Gophers football team, for which the suspended players were members.

    Thus can we see the difference between black and white in academia. White athletes have their entire team suspended because some of the team made offensive remarks. Black athletes are individually suspended only when they misbehave to the point of committing rape or being an accessory to rape.

    That’s the politically correct definition of racial equality, I suppose.

    1. Introducing race into this discussion accomplishes nothing other than exposing your personal biases. More importantly, you are comparing apples to oranges — different situations, different responses.

      MN case is a far more serious incident and is treated as such when it comes to the
      individuals involved. My understanding is that five out of 10 accused Minnesota football players were recommended for expulsion. The names of all 10 are made public, which may severely limit their job prospects after graduation. Most of these guys are not pro football material and are not getting any serious education either. They may not even graduate, so they need to rely on the good graces of local college football supporters — good luck with that.

      As far as I can tell, Princeton University wants to keep the identities of the students and the content of their posts private, thus limiting any long-term damage to the students involved.

      The collective punishment aspect of MN reaction is indeed lower than in Princeton case. One guess is that MN feels that it has dealt harshly enough with the 10 people identified as the culprits and has no need to do anything more. Another guess is that this is the difference between bowl appearance which brings money to the university and swim meets which do not. I also don’t know what percentage of the team is involved in each case.

      1. You’re quite wrong, Lev. I didn’t ‘introduce’ race. I _recognized_ it. Race is often the elephant in the political living room. It tramps around and poops on everyone’s shoes, but nobody dares mention it.

        No, it isn’t an invalid “apples and oranges” comparison. It’s a valid “apples and oranges” comparison. The whole idea is that one race is being treated like an apple while the other is being treated like an orange, and that it isn’t a matter of both races receiving the same treatment. In other words, the “apples and oranges” metaphor is a metaphor that I, not you, can use to good purpose.

        And YOU don’t need to tell ME that the offense in Minnesota is more egregious than is the one in Princeton. That, too, is one of MY premises, and not one of yours.

        While you are so eager to recognize that the ten black student-rapists at UMinn were recommended for expulsion, you should observe that they were not criminally charged. What kind of penalty for RAPE is EXPULSION? The ten black students are getting off very easy, even if they are expelled, are they not? By rights they should be tried and, if convicted, sent to prison for five to ten years, in addition to whatever other civil and school administrative penalties they’d have to pay.

        In short, the blacks got off easy—EASY!—in relation to their offenses.

        Returning now to Princeton, let’s try to imagine a quantity that I’ll call “the egregiousness ratio.” What is the egregiousness ratio? It’s easily explained by a simple equation:

        Ɛ = (The Blameworthiness of Participating in a Gang Rape) / (The Blameworthiness of Sending a Vulgar Comment in an Email)

        I’d say that that particular value of Ɛ is rather high, wouldn’t you? You’d expect that the severity of the punishment for the ten black rapist-students at UMinn would be AS MUCH GREATER than the severity of the punishment for the impolite email-senders at Princeton, wouldn’t you?

        But it wasn’t. Not even close.

        As I said, race is nearly always a factor that is used by the political left in choosing a punishment an offender, regardless of whether the offense is great or small. It’s a factor even when it isn’t mentioned, and it usually isn’t, because leftists don’t like having their contradictions exposed. But mentioned or not, it is very readily discerned by making comparisons of the kind that I made.

        1. “That, too, is one of MY premises, and not one of yours.”

          I suggest that you reread my comment. That MN case is far more serious was actually one point on which we are in complete agreement.

          “What kind of penalty for RAPE is EXPULSION?”

          It is the the harshest penalty that University can impose on any student for any reason. I believe that you understand the difference between University and judicial systems. University can not charge someone with rape. Only the police can do that. The police felt that they could not prove it in this particular case. I don’t know the facts of the case and neither do you. I absolutely agree with you that if the athletes committed rape (and it appears rather likely, but apparently police didn’t believe they had enough evidence) then they are getting off VERY easy.

          I am not familiar with the other date rape case. I don’t know if the circumstantial evidence was stronger or if somehow the police found the victim more believable. It would indeed be reasonable to compare these two MN cases to see if there was preferential treatment or incompetence by the police. However, my quick Google search indicated that there were significant physical injuries sustained in 2014 case. I don’t know what these were in the 2016 case.

          Importantly, in your comment you were talking about treatment of black vs. white “in academia” but the punishments we are talking about in MN are driven by what happened in police investigations. It is not about academia.

          Race and racial bias are a fact of life. But I see no evidence that would led me to believe that black offenders are systematically punished disproportionally lightly compared to white offenders. Your attempt to merge together unrelated cases with very different levels of crime and levels punishment is not going to convince me otherwise.

          If you are interested in moving beyond the anecdotal evidence, the Wall Street Journal article

          seems to indicate that statistically black offenders are punished somewhat more harshly than white ones. But this finding is not without its critics, as the article duly notes.

          1. I hope you’ll excuse me for thinking that you were disagreeing with me about the seriousness of the gang-rape at the University of Minnesota. And you’re correct in assuming that I understand the difference between the authority of the University Administration and that of the judicial system. But I didn’t intend to convey the idea that the former was the only authority inclined to allow racial politics to corrupt due process. The latter does it also.

            You probably remember the 2006 incident in which three Duke University students, players on the Duke men’s lacrosse team, were falsely accused of rape by a female stripper named Crystal Gail Mangum. Despite a lack of evidence and questions about Mangum’s credibility, District Attorney Mike Nifong brought criminal charges against the accused lacross players, all three of whom were white.

            For several months, Nifong concealed DNA evidence that indicated that none of the lacrosse players had raped Mangum, and he was later disbarred for official misconduct. The police noticed that Mangum had changed her story several times. Eventually, the weight of evidence in favor of the lacrosse players was such that the charges were dismissed.

            The point, however, is that those charges were FILED, despite the fact that there was insufficient evidence of guilt. A grand jury probably would not have indicted the lacrosse players.

            Apparently, then, not having sufficient evidence in hand to ensure a conviction during a trial is a problem only when the accused persons are non-whites. That’s when a prosecutor or the police pretend that they need in hand “proof beyond a reasonable doubt” before they can even make an arrest, when, really, the necessary standard of evidence is probable cause.

            When the accused persons are whites, some lesser standard of evidence is enough: say, enough to constitute a reasonable suspicion.

            Permit me to help you locate the details of the other rape case at UMinn. The perpetrator was Daniel Drill-Mellum. The victim was Abby Honold. The rape occurred in November 2014. Yes, there was evidence of injuries on the victim. Moreover, the perpetrator confessed to the crime. Ah, I see that you have already found links to relevant information.

            In the more recent UMinn case, involving the suspended 10 black football players, DNA evidence from at least two of the accused was found during medical examinations of the victim. So the dispute is mostly about whether the sex was consensual. All of those black football players say it was. The woman says it was not.

            The Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action (what a self-conflicted name that is) office has said that although the victim’s account of events has become more detailed with time, it has remained consistent. However, the stories told by the black football players are neither consistent with each other, nor are they self-consistent over time.


            So, on the face of things, the side to favor appears to be that of the purported victim. There is enough evidence from testimony for charges to be brought, if the standard for bringing them is probable cause, and the standard of “proof beyond a reasonable doubt” is left to the trial jury.

            And, yet, no charges were filed.

            You are correct on one point. The University of Minnesota did as well as it could do, with regard to punishing the black football players for gang-rape. It was law enforcement and local prosecutors who “dropped the ball” that time.

            Again, I say that race makes a difference in how laws are enforced, with accused blacks getting more favorable treatment than accused whites would get. In trying to prove as much, I must make use of such offenses and criminal trials as are known to me. I think that I already have a pretty good case, but it can, of course, always become better.

            There is good statistical evidence that black offenders, generally, are punished with slightly greater severity than are whites for offenses of equal seriousness. But the reason isn’t racism. It’s recidivism. For misdemeanor offenses and, sometimes, for felonies, judges will impose a relatively lenient punishment if it is the accused’s first offense. On the other hand, if this particular offender is up for his 2nd offense, his punishment will be greater. And more so, even, for a 3rd offense. The idea is that if the previous penalties weren’t sufficient to deter repetitions of the crime, then a harsher penalty is called for.

            Blacks have a (much) higher per capita rate of perpetration for most crimes. [There are a few exceptions, such as DUI.] Blacks are recidivist criminals (much) more often than are whites. As a result, their average penalty for a given crime is somewhat larger than the average penalty that whites get. It isn’t racism, though. It’s a result of the fact that the punishment is increased as the rap sheet lengthens.

            1. I remember Duke U case — it turned out to be a clear judicial misconduct upon close examination. I would not be surprised if it somehow informed the MN case in the sense of police being more cautious.

              I believe that the other MN case you were referring to was initially closed but then reopened when more victims came forward with their testimony. So it doesn’t look like the police response was all that different. We might yet see more development in the gang rape case. Unfortunately, in “he said — she said” cases it is hard to know the truth.

              You may well have a point about recidivism. I don’t know if the study that WSJ refers to took it into account. It is often the case that popular journal articles ignore important substantive issues in the original research. Not that social sciences research is uniformly reliable.

              I do want to point out a different approach of the law enforcement and society in general to the ongoing heroin epidemic compared to crack cocaine one of the late 80s. Whether informed by (lack of) racism, or just by experience, there is significantly less of a push for mass incarceration.

              1. Hm. Well, somehow the University of Minnesota saw enough evidence in favor of the woman’s testimony to act with as much decisiveness as it was able, by expelling the most culpable of the ten black football players. And there is the significant fact that this evidence, once made known to the remaining members of the football team, caused them to reverse their decision to boycott the big games of the season. How evidence so convincing to many, might yet somehow not amount to probable cause with the local police, presents something of a mystery.

                I’d like to add a point of clarification to what I said before about recidivism and the racially differing per capita rates for most crimes. Although it is true that the average black jail/prison sentence is somewhat more severe than is the average white jail/prison sentence, mostly on account of the increased punishment imposed on repeat offenders, I don’t have data for black and for white offenders for specific crimes, broken down by first offenses, second offenses, third offenses. The FBI’s annual publication Crime in the United States only goes so far.

                But I would guess that if someone were to locate data on, say,

                Armed Robbery
                Following convictions for 1st offense
                Court imposed punishment on convicted blacks: # days in prison
                Court imposed punishment on convicted whites: # days in prison
                Following convictions for 2nd offense
                Court imposed punishment on convicted blacks: # days in prison
                Court imposed punishment on convicted whites: # days in prison
                Following convictions for 3rd offense
                Court imposed punishment on convicted blacks: # days in prison
                Court imposed punishment on convicted whites: # days in prison

                Murder, 2nd degree
                Following convictions for 1st offense
                Court imposed punishment on convicted blacks: # days in prison
                Court imposed punishment on convicted whites: # days in prison
                Following convictions for 2nd offense
                Court imposed punishment on convicted blacks: # days in prison
                Court imposed punishment on convicted whites: # days in prison
                Following convictions for 3rd offense
                Court imposed punishment on convicted blacks: # days in prison
                Court imposed punishment on convicted whites: # days in prison

                …and so on, that whites would have somewhat the more severe punishments. Additionally, there should be racial statistics pertaining to an inmate’s average time until parole and supervised release, or, equivalently, how much of the sentence a black or a white prisoner actually served. In other words, recidivism makes the average black penalty a bit harsher than the average white penalty, but not by as much as it ought to.

                I don’t know that this is the case, of course. I lack the data to prove it either way. But it’s a hypothesis that keeps suggesting itself.

                  1. Wow. Quite a colloquy there Lev. What was that you said? “Look . . . Let’s keep it focused on the issue at hand, shall we?”

                    1. He has a point though. The data that would be needed to answer some of the questions we were discussing just aren’t available. A reason they aren’t available might be the reluctance of the criminologists to collect, process, and present data that calls attention to racial differences in crime rates. Somebody might call the criminologist a racist, if he were to make these truths too plainly obvious.

                      Also, there are a few ways in which the data that do exist are obfuscated.

                      For example, the DoJ, including the FBI, lumps mestizos (persons of mixed Amerindian and white ancestry) into their “white offenders” category. Such persons are in fact a separate racial group and should be separately treated. As a rule of thumb, their per capita rates for the perpetration of crimes of violence and crimes against property are near the geometric average of the same per capita rates for blacks and for whites.

                      This is something I noticed myself. If, say, the per capita rate for murder perpetration among whites is 1 murder per 100000 persons per year, and that of blacks is 9, then that of mestizos is usually around 3.

                      Another rule of thumb is that a rough correction to any “white-to-black per capita rate ratio” for the perpetration of a crime derived from Department of Justice sources, for the improper classification of mestizos as whites, can be made by multiplying their ratio by 4/3. The black-to-(real whites) perpetration rate ratio is about 4/3 higher than the black-to-(DoJ whites) perpetration rate ratio.

                      It isn’t a perfect correction, of course, but it’s better than nothing.

                    2. Of course he does. We all do on PP. In light of your and Lev’s rambling colloquy, I was commenting on his rude and consequently hypocritical reply to me. (See below.) It’s all good.

                    3. Yes, Robert, I went off course. On the positive side, David and I did find some common ground. Perhaps, you and I may yet agree on something in the future 🙂

          2. An earlier, lengthy reply to your post, just above, is waiting for Planet Princeton moderators to clear. It contains a URL, which seems to trigger an automatic hold.

            In addition to incidents mentioned therein, among them the Duke University rape case of 2006, I have recalled another that might be relevant.

            In 2007, at George Washington University, a journalism student named Sarah Marshak decided to manufacture an antisemitic hoax. She drew swastikas on a dry-erase board mounted on her dormitory room door and in several other places. She then reported the swastikas as an antisemitic terrorist threat. The university’s Hillel director, Robert Fishman, adamantly called for the perpetrator to be arrested and charged with hate crimes. The FBI was called in. (Woo!)

            NBC News interviewed Sarah Marshak, who delivered a load of b.s. about having “no idea” who drew the swastikas and that she just couldn’t believe that anybody would hate her that much.

            The FBI, working with the local police, put hidden cameras in the woman’s dormitory, and it wasn’t long before they caught her drawing the swastikas herself.

            When it became known that the swastika drawer was a Jewish girl, the media, the university administration, and Robert Fishman immediately lost all interest in arresting and prosecuting the perpetrator. Suddenly, everyone was expressing sympathy for her and stating that, obviously, she was just crying out for “help.”

            So, when anyone who isn’t a Jew draws a swastika, it’s a crime worthy of FBI attention. But when a Jew draws a swastika as part of a hoax, it isn’t a crime — even though it might have gotten someone innocent expelled and/or arrested.

            1. Yes, there is a double standard.

              If a person cuts their own veins, it is viewed differently than if it is done to someone else.

              As a bald man, I allow myself to make bald jokes, but might not look favorably at someone I don’t know making those jokes at my expense 🙂

              On a serious note I think if a Jew draws a swastika as part of a hoax, it is an unusual event done by a sick individual seeking attention. It is very unlikely to result in violence (upon others). If a non-Jew does it, all bets are off. It is usually just basic intimidation, it could occasionally lead to something worse. While not very common (less than a thousand incidents a year in the US) It is also not as unusual as a hoax and does not make the national news. In other words, there is a difference between a hoax and a real thing. I don’t mean to condone hoaxes (and wouldn’t mind hoax perpetrators billed for the waste of resources) but want to point out the obvious difference of intent.

              1. A hoax can be motivated by greed. The hoaxer calculates that the sympathy generated among her gullible dupes will bring her advantages, opportunities, and material gain that she might not otherwise receive.

                A hoax can be motivated by group loyalty. The hoaxer calculates that her actions will generate sympathy for her group, which will thereby receive advantages, opportunities, and material gain that it might not otherwise receive.

                Personally, I doubt the notion that Sarah Marshak was in need of any therapeutic help. One or both of the motives that I mentioned is, I think, much more likely. As I recall, a male student at GWU was falsely blamed for drawing Marshak’s swastikas and expelled, but this did not prompt an immediate confession from Marshak. She persisted in her hoax until she was caught by the hidden cameras.

                Because a hoax (or a false accusation) can cause harm to befall innocent people, a severe penalty should befall a hoaxer (or a false accuser) when they are caught. It is unfortunate that Marshak was allowed to escape prosecution and jail time, which is undoubtedly the fate that would have awaited a non-Jew who dared to draw some swastikas on walls and dry-erase boards on the GWU campus.

                That is, I don’t agree with your theory that persons with a characteristic have more right to mock or to make fun of that characteristic than anyone else has. Everyone has the same freedom of speech. Both fat and thin persons may make “fat jokes.” Nobody’s free speech should have more protection of the laws than anyone else’s free speech has.

  7. If these were lesbian students talking about other women there would be no problem. It would be “homophobic” if one judged that talk.

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