Last week, a Columbia University student blog published a series of leaked chat room messages, leaked to a Columbia student blog, that were sent between school wrestling team players. The team was then suspended, as Legal Insurrection reported, Columbia Suspends Men’s Wrestling Season Over Lewd Texts.

These leaked messages, which were sent in the assumed privacy of a group chat, are described at the student blog as follows: “mock women’s appearances, make jokes about rape, use homophobic and racist slurs, and engage in other distasteful interactions.”

Indeed, many of the messages, which can be seen at this link, would most likely be considered problematic by many on campus.

Yet, many Columbia students believe they’re more than just problematic. They want to go after the wrestlers.

In the past few days, there have been at least 2 protests on campus (one protest in front of a fraternity house, and one occupation protest in the school gym) condemning the private text messages. At these protests, students demanded punishment and expulsion for the wrestlers. 

Just two days ago, two Columbia students, Keenan Teddy Smith and Bianca Gurrero, released a list of demands for the wrestlers involved on a public Facebook event page called “OccupyDodge/ holding men’s athletics accountable.” (Dodge is the name of the Columbia gym, targeted for the fact that it’s where the wrestlers in question congregate). 


These demands, if acquiesced to, could essential wreck the lives of the young men.

They include:

1) Removing athletes who sent offensive messages from the wrestling team.

2)Striping the athletes of all awards, and have each athlete issue an individual public apology.

3)Release the names of the parties involved in the [group] messages.

While I don’t condone the racist and sexist sentiments that were found in the text messages, there is something positively Orwellian about demanding that students be punished for what they said in private messages.

What’s next? Do all students have their private messages leaked to the campus thought police? How many of us would be left standing if we were expelled for even the slightest of offensive comments?

What’s worse is that students are demanding that the wrestlers names be published so the wrestlers can be scandalized into unemployability.


Publishing their names is likely to lead into an Orwellian blood sport. It’s retribution to the highest degree, likely to cause more damage to these young men’s futures than any harm that could have been done by their private texts.

At Columbia, if you refuse to toe-the-party line, activists will come for blood.  If you don’t self-immolate in repentance, then the mob will try to destroy you. 


Toni Airaksinen is a Junior at Barnard College and takes classes at Columbia University across the street. She also writes for Campus Reform, The College Fix and Quillette.  She tweets @Toni_Airaksinen


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