Amherst College Campus
Amherst College students are seen in this photo posted on the institute's official Facebook page, Aug. 27, 2016. Fecebook/Amherst College/Maria Stenzel

Authorities at Amherst College in Massachusetts suspended its men’s cross-country team after a report that athletes made racist, misogynistic and homophobic comments in the team’s email chains, according to reports Monday.

The email chains came to light in a report in a student publication, The Indicator, that reported the messages were sent from 2013 to 2015. The team members referred to women as “meatslab” and “walking STD” and also used vulgar racial phrases. Most of these emails were sent to incoming freshmen.

“The messages are appalling,” Amherst President Biddy Martin said Sunday, in a statement. “They are not only vulgar, they are cruel and hateful. No attempt to rationalize them will change that. My reaction is one of profound sadness, disappointment, and anger.”

“The conduct of those involved flagrantly violates Amherst’s principles and the most basic forms of decency and respect. The athletic director has informed members of the cross-country team that, pending an investigation, all team activities have been suspended. I expect to have more information within the next several days,” Martin said.

Karen Blake, who is a former track athlete at the college and the president of Amherst’s student association, said in a Facebook post that the “use of misogynistic language” is one of the reasons she “stopped running.”

“By looking past the behavior of these men and continuing to engage with them socially women athletes actively aid in the normalization and perpetuation of this toxic culture on campus,” Blake said, adding: “this kind of behavior does happen amongst women’s teams simply in different forms. . . . It is not enough to be outraged, instead we need to critically examine the ways in which athletic teams as a whole, both men’s and women’s teams, play a role in this problem.”