Education

UP tennis player removed from team for 'shocking' speech

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) -- A  controversial "violent, misogynistic speech," from a University of Portland tennis player was brought to light on Monday in the school newspaper by a fellow athlete, a day after it "marred" the school's annual end of the year sports awards. 

Goutham Sundaram, a graduate of Lincoln High School and the host of Sunday's banquet, was removed from the men's tennis roster, the school announced on Monday. Sundaram is a senior and the regular ended on Sunday afternoon. The WCC Conference Championships are scheduled for April 26.

Beth Sorensen, the schools's associated director of media and public relations, released a statement regarding the speech.

Last night the “Wally’s,” an awards banquet organized and run by student members of an advisory committee to Athletics, was held to celebrate student athletes, teams, and Athletics staff for their many accomplishments in the past year.
 
Unfortunately, the celebration was marred by shocking and offensive comments made by a student who was emceeing the event. People were understandably appalled by the student’s actions.
 
These offensive statements do not reflect the University of Portland, and they do not reflect our mission.  
 
Athletics has already taken steps to hold this student accountable, including removing him from the roster. Additional steps will be taken to address the conduct and any impact.
 
There is no place at the University of Portland for what was said. It wasn’t funny, and it is completely inconsistent with the important dialogues that continue on our campus.  Verbal or physical, it is still abuse. 

The speech and its contents were first reported in a column by Olivia Sanchez, the managing editor of the student newspaper, "The Beacon." Sanchez is a rower at the school and was in attendance for The Wally's. During Sundaram's speech, Sanchez said she got up, went home and immediately started writing about "the most disturbing time" she's experienced while at the school. 

"Sundaram’s speech detailed his sexual pursuits during the last four years and explicitly stated that his main goal throughout college was not academic or even athletic, but sexual: to get white women to sleep with brown men," Sanchez wrote. 

"Sundaram repeatedly made sports innuendos, taking quick breaks from his violent speech to roast other sports teams, and eventually blamed his lack of sexual “success” on an “unfair referee,” or PSAFE shutting down parties before 11 p.m., suggesting that he was going out at night on the weekends to parties looking for girls to sleep with."

"Several other athletes left the room after Sundaram said 'Gandhi didn’t fast for twenty days so that I could get to America and not sleep with white women.'"

On Monday afternoon, Sundaram sent a statement to student-athletes and staff.

"I would like to address what happened at the Wally’s last night," Sundaram said, according to the school. "I want to apologize for taking away from the focus of the night. The night is meant to celebrate the excellence of student athletes and I would like to apologize if I made any people uncomfortable.”

Sanchez said others, including men's basketball coach Terry Porter, also left during ths speech. 

University of Portland President Fr. Mark Poorman also sent a letter to those in the UP community. The letter was very similar to the statement Sorensen released on Monday.

"I apologize to all of you that this occurred," Poorman wrote. "Clearly we have continuing work to do to educate and raise consciousness."

The speech -- and its fallout -- was a big topic of discussion on campus Monday. 

"It's just unacceptable on a campus like this where we're focused on inclusion and getting as many minorities and people from different communities and thought processes and everything," said student David Gloyd. "It seems like something really out of this place for this school."

Sarah Craney already thinks it's tough for young women to feel safe on campus. Comments, like the ones reportedly made in Sundaram's speech, just add to that fear.

"I think it kind of reinforces rape culture," she said.

You can read all of Sanchez's column in her tweet below. 


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