Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Swim Team Sanctioned Over ‘Stag Survival Guide’

The Claremont-Mudd-Scripps college swimming & diving team was assigned “mandatory educational programming” after three senior women quit over a document produced by the men’s team, according to school newspaper The Student Life. Claremont McKenna College required the programming after an investigation into behavior by the team, revolving around a document called the “Stag Survival Guide” produced by senior men on the team.

  • Editor’s note: the men’s teams at CMS are nicknamed the Stags, while the women’s teams are nicknamed the Athenas.

School newspaper The Scripps Voice reports that three of the four senior women on the team met with head coach Charlie Griffiths to resign from the team. The women cited Griffith’s lack of response to the “Stag Survival Guide,” which team members say includes racially and sexually inappropriate language.

The document is portrayed as an introduction for first-year swimmers and divers, with descriptions of the team’s returning athletes written by the senior men. But several members of the women’s and men’s teams raised issues with the document, per The Scripps Voice, and the school paper says the document includes “use of the n-word, explicit sexual references to members of the women’s team, and a homophobic description of another teammate.”

The Scripps Voice story (linked above) includes several excerpts from the document:

  • “Is [teammate] a Stag or an Athena? We’re not quite sure, but you can count on him to have more glitter and sparkles on at a party than Elton John in the 70s. Most likely to start at least 3 Athena chants before 10PM”
  • “His toes have single-footedly seduced 104% of the Athenas.”
  • “Check out ‘Thick N***** and Anime Tiddies” by Dbangz for a rough understanding of [teammate]’s sex life” (Note: the original version in the Stag Survival Guide is not censored)
  • “Everybody be nice to [teammate], we need him to make sure we meet the minimum diversity requirement on the team.”

The Stag Survival Guide is intended to be confidential, and shared only within the men’s team, per a note on the first page. But The Scripps Voice reports that a member of the men’s team who was upset about his description shared a screenshot of the document with a member of the women’s program. Two senior women say they reached out to the men’s team, asking them to retract the description and apologize to the teammate, but say the senior men did not. A week later, members of the women’s team brought the document to Griffiths, the head coach of both the women and men.

Upset with what they characterized as inaction from Griffiths, three of the senior women met with the coach individually on September 18 to quit the program. A day later, The Scripps Voice reports, Griffiths held a meeting and temporarily suspended some of the male swimmers from practice. But at that meeting, a captain of the men’s team presented a “defensive document” detailing other sexually suggestive jokes or traditions from the team’s group chat, including traditions within the women’s team. One such example from the “defensive document” includes a Valentine’s Day tradition involving inappropriate jokes by the women’s team, and a ‘friskiest frosh’ award given by the senior women to the freshman they deem the most promiscuous.

In the midst of this back-and-forth, the chief civil rights officer for Claremont McKenna College Nyree Gray opened an investigation into the situation to see if team members had violated Claremont McKenna’s values. The Student Life reported on the investigation in early October. Later on, the paper reported that the program was assigned the “mandatory educational programming” at the close of the investigation.

We asked the program for comment and received this statement:

“The investigation has concluded and it was determined members of the men’s and women’s teams engaged in behavior that justified the assignment of mandatory educational programming for the teams. In addition, some members of the men’s team have been given additional educational requirements.”

The program says no swimmers were suspended from competition.

The Claremont-Mudd-Scripps swimming & diving team represents three of the five undergraduate Claremont Colleges: Scripps College, Claremont McKenna College and Harvey Mudd College. They compete in the NCAA’s Division III.

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NONA

Got off light compared to recent comparable stories. I don’t get it, these kids weren’t even ALIVE when you could get away with this stuff. Really poor job/

BWPolo

Except they probably get away with it everyday online while hiding behind an “imatroll” handle in their closed social media circles. They matured during the online say everything anonymously era. This is probably the first time they were caught with their names on it.

Johan

I think to be fair to the swimmers and the coach, a follow up inquiry on whether this is a one-time thing (nasty languages in this year’s guide) or whether this is a long-run tradition. If this kind of languages is a recurring theme, it is far more troublesome and should be dealt with accordingly. Might be a good journalist project.
Hope the swimmers really learned a lesson in civility and respect… Character counts.

Brian M

This conduct is outrageous and in no way can be tolerated. With that being said, I also have an issue with “mandatory educational programming”. Can we use something that is not so Orwellian sounding?

BWPolo

Was going to say the same. I hope SwimSwam can do some more journalism and follow up on this. If the MEP is a couple of 1-hour powerpoint presentations not sure how the guilty will be “reprogrammed”. Guys will graduate and just learn not to write down their racist, sexist, comments and pass them around at work.

And really, if the coach isn’t doing everything he can to get the 3 women to return to the team and remove the guilty parties then it kinda says something significant about the culture of the program.

Swimstalker

Full disclosure: I know someone on this team so I am not impartial about this but that being said I also have a more complete picture of this so I felt the need to say something. First, saying that this incident is indicative of racism or homophobia on the team is a misnomer. There was one entry that could be construed as homophobic and one entry that could be construed as racist and there is no evidence that either of these comments were meant to be hurtful or that they indicate actual racism or homophobia on the team. As for the sexism, the guide did not demean any of the girls specifically. Yes there were sexually suggestive comments but as… Read more »

John

There may be one instance but someone wrote it, someone published it, everyone read it. 3 people stood up

channel

people who think saying “”possibly”” racist or homophobic things who “”””don’t mean it”””” are why both are still so widely acceptable. it’s never okay. it is never a joke.

Nate J.

Stop trying to save them face. This behiviour should not be tolerated. Period.

Natalie

First of all, you dismissing the senior woman’s quote as “petty” is a classic sexist dismissal. It delegitimizes their perspective (that’s called gaslighting) and is really only used in the context of degrading/discriminating against women. Moving on: Is this your “more complete picture,” or more bigoted picture? It reads like satire it’s so ignorant. The maliciously-intended, racist, sexist, and homophobic handiwork of the boys — let’s call it what it is boys — the so-called “Survival Guide,” speaks for itself. It was so hurtful to the ENTIRE team that it forced three senior women, two of whom you say are nationally-ranked, to give up their last year of college swimming…just to get the school to pay attention? Such injustice. And… Read more »

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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