US & Canada

Columbia University suspends wrestling team over 'lewd texts'

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Image caption 'The university has been at the centre of a debate on how colleges handle sexually aggressive behaviour

Columbia University has suspended the men's wrestling team after lewd text messages allegedly sent by several of its members surfaced.

The messages labelled "racist, misogynistic and homophobic" were posted in a chat app and revealed on Bwog, a student-run blog.

A statement from the university described the messages as "appalling".

The university has been at the centre of a debate on how colleges handle sexually aggressive behaviour.

"Seeing that dialogue happening behind closed doors with our classmates and our peers was very, very shocking," Claire Fry, a student at Columbia, told the New York Times.

The university said that the wrestling team would not compete "until we have a full understanding of the facts on which to base the official response to this disturbing matter".

The revelation comes weeks after Harvard University suspended its men's soccer team following a report in the student newspaper that players made sexual comments about members of the women's team.

It said students were rating the attractiveness of female players as well as using sexually explicit comments.

James Fast, a student, who is Bwog's publisher, said he was encouraged by the university's quick response and its investigation, including its decision to cancel the wrestling team's participation in its first match, the New York Times reports.

US college sexism and 'rape culture'

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Media captionBBC Pop Up investigates

The recent revelations are at the milder end of what has been dubbed US college "rape culture".

Banners regularly appear at the beginning of the academic year bearing slogans such as: "Rowdy and fun. Hope your baby girl is ready for a good time".

Studies have found that members of US college fraternities are three times more likely to commit rape than other male students while members of sororities were 74% more likely to experience sexual assault.

Past scandals include an email sent around one fraternity entitled "Luring your rapebait" and fraternity members chanting "No means yes".

The most recent case involved a Stanford University swimming champion who sexually assaulted an unconscious female student before being jailed for six months - a term condemned by many as too short.

Will Stanford sexual assault case silence future victims?

BBC Pop Up: Fraternity culture and stopping college rape

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