A number of men on the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps swim team were suspended from practice for a week in mid-September, head swim and dive coach Charlie Griffiths told TSL Thursday, as the CMS athletic department and its associated schools launched an investigation into reported actions that may have violated the department’s values.
Griffiths summoned his swimmers and divers to an early-morning meeting in Roberts Pavilion on Sept. 19, according to an email shared with TSL. There, he delivered a lecture about team standards and announced that some of the male swimmers were being temporarily suspended, according to three sources familiar with the meeting.
The day before, several senior women on the team had told Griffiths they were quitting, citing a team culture they characterized as “pervaded by toxic masculinity,” according to a source familiar with the team.
The breaking point, two sources say, was this year’s edition of the “Stag Survival Guide,” reportedly a document circulated among the men’s team each year to “introduce new freshmen to the team and crack jokes at existing members.”
This year, some of the women who saw the alleged document thought it was inappropriate, the source familiar with the team said. They say it included offensive comments about other team members.
“Really [it was] the culmination of everything,” the source said. “The [Stag Survival Guide] was the epitome, the last straw.”
The CMS investigation is being led by Nyree Gray, Claremont McKenna College’s assistant vice president for diversity and chief civil rights officer, according to CMC spokesperson Gilien Silsby.
In response to a series of questions about the investigation, Gray said via email that she “cannot respond […] at this time while the matter is still pending.”
The investigation is expected to conclude soon, the source said.
The athletic department and associated colleges “are committed to maintaining an environment in which every community member feels welcomed and valued. Conduct inconsistent with those values will not be tolerated,” Silsby said in an email to TSL Oct. 2.
“Furthermore, the colleges may mandate remedies if students are found to have acted in a manner contradictory to the values of CMS Athletics and their college,” she said.
Members of the CMS men’s swim team did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Both the Stags and Athenas were recently picked to finish second in the conference by a poll of SCIAC head coaches, although it’s unclear whether that ranking was made with the knowledge that multiple members of the women’s team had quit. CMS opens its season at UC San Diego on Oct. 26.
Kellen Browning PO ’20 is a politics major from Davis, California. He’s currently TSL’s editor-at-large and previously served as the paper’s editor-in-chief, managing editor and news editor.