A Claremont-Mudd-Scripps swim team document meant to be viewed only by male swimmers and divers is now very much public knowledge at the 5Cs, thanks to the backlash generated by descriptions of team members that have been labeled sexist.
The 2019 edition of the “Stag Survival Guide,” published in full by The Scripps Voice last week, prompted several senior members of the swim team to quit in September, citing a team culture they characterized as “pervaded by toxic masculinity,” according to a source familiar with the team.
“Really [it was] the culmination of everything,” the source said. “The [Stag Survival Guide] was the epitome, the last straw.”
Some men on the team were suspended for a week, as TSL previously reported, and the incident prompted a month-long investigation by the athletic department and associated colleges that found team members’ behavior “justified” mandatory educational programming.
The guide — which included a description for every swimmer on the men’s team that was intended to be humorous — made references that were called “racist, sexist and homophobic” by the source familiar with the team.
One of the guide descriptions says: “Everyone be nice to […], we need him to make sure we meet the minimum diversity requirement on the team.”
Another reads: “[…] says he’s here to learn, but after three years it’s clear that this whole ‘school’ thing is just a way to get to know blondes with nice butts.”
A third asks: “Is […] a Stag or 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.”
Joaquin Riojas CM ’22, a member of the swim team, said he read the document over the summer when it was emailed to him and didn’t think much of it at the time.
Now, though, he said he can see how some of the jokes are “flat out hurtful, and the fact that a teammate is writing that about another teammate, it’s wrong.”
“The writers used sex and, well, yeah mostly sex, as the crutch of trying to get a laugh out of people, sometimes at the expense of people,” he said. Previously, the guides were more wholesome, witty and “came from a place of more generous intent,” he said.
The source familiar with the team, however, said that they’ve heard the guide is “this bad” every year.
Riojas said he understood the Athenas’ feelings about this year’s guide, but said he feels it isn’t indicative of the broader team culture they cited. The two topics are being conflated, he said.
“There’s something about being nice and respectful of your teammates, which I don’t think this version of the Stag Survival Guide is at all,” Riojas said. “But then on top of that, we also see this conversation about the team culture more broadly and frankly male-female relations on the team and issues of sexism, which again, I never experienced during my time on the team, which is again qualified by me being a sophomore so being there for less time and also being a male.”
“I’m not saying that issue doesn’t exist,” he added. “I’m just saying that it’s being wrapped up into one conversation that is very confusing for a lot of the younger members on the team, especially because it’s not clear what we’re trying to address.”
The Athena swimmers who quit the team earlier this semester did not respond to requests for comment for this article. Head coach Charlie Griffiths also declined to comment.
Going forward, Riojas said the team is working on basic communication.
“I don’t think anyone would continue to do things that made other people uncomfortable if they knew that someone was uncomfortable,” he said.
Meghan Bobrowsky SC ’21 is a politics major from Davis, California. She previously served as TSL’s editor-in-chief, managing editor, life & style editor and video editor.