Columbia player arrested for hate crime; Program faces racial, homophobic firestorm
[dropcap]C[/dropcap]olumbia football is no stranger to struggles on the field. Now, the program is dealing with a brewing off-field controversy.
On Tuesday, Chad Washington, a rising junior defensive end on the Lions football team, was arrested and charged with aggravated harassment after he allegedly assaulted and threatened another student with racial slurs.
A day later, WKCR, the university’s student-run radio station, posted a disturbing gallery of 46 tweets made by Washington and several teammates of a racist, homophobic and otherwise offensive nature.
According to NBC New York, Washington began heckling two females who where leaving a W. 113th Street dormitory early Sunday. When a 19-year old Asian student who was with the females tried to defend them, Washington called him racial slurs and followed after the group.
He then grabbed the victim by the collar and shoved him against a wall, NBC reported.
Washington was arrested Tuesday afternoon and faces a misdemeanor charge of aggravated harassment as a hate crime. He was released Wednesday without bail.
Daniel Fetterman, Washington’s attorney, issued a statement regarding the accusations.
“The allegations do not accurately portray the events that occurred,” the statement read. “When all the facts come out, it will be clear that Mr. Washington did not commit a hate crime, and he will be vindicated.”
Though the tweets are not related to the incident, they certainly raise questions about the culture within Columbia’s program and the attitude of its players. (Because of their offensive nature, we see no benefit in posting the tweets on this website. However, the full gallery can be viewed HERE.)
In one tweet posted by WKCR, Washington makes fun of the school’s Asian students.
Reaction from the Columbia community has been strong. Hundreds of commenters on the website of the Columbia Spectator, the school newspaper, and Bwog, the online blog of Columbia’s Blue & White Magazine, have spoken out in condemnation of the language and nature of the tweets.
In an interesting twist, Washington wrote a March 12 op-ed for the Spectator arguing that Columbia athletes deserve more respect on campus, stating that, “teachers and professors are quick to judge and criticize athletes because they have never been athletes themselves.”
He wrote that Columbia athletes, “are all Lions who are striving after the same goals: to earn a degree and make our parents and families proud.”
Washington, who played high school ball at Bishop O’Dowd in Oakland, Calif., has seen action in 10 games during his Columbia career, registering 20 tackles, three tackles for loss and two sacks.
Though his status with the team is uncertain, he had been expected to compete for a starting job at defensive end this fall.
Columbia coach Pete Mangurian has not commented on Washington’s arrest or WKCR’s compilation of tweets.
Mangurian was hired in Dec. 2011 and inherited a team that went 1-9 the prior season. During that time, he’s worked hard to excite the Columbia community and promote student and fan involvement.
In 2012, the Lions finished 3-7 and 2-5 in the Ivy League, and the program’s outlook has been considered positive.
Photo originally obtained by NBC 4 New York