University of Portland student says his controversial monologue ‘grossly inappropriate’

A 2014 photo shows then Lincoln High School tennis player Goutham Sundaram during his finals match at the 2014 OSAA 6A Boys Tennis State Championships at the Tualatin Hills Tennis Center.(

A University of Portland tennis player kicked off the team after a monologue at the school’s annual sports awards banquet in which he detailed his sexual pursuits and made other misogynist remarks says he now realizes it "was grossly inappropriate."

In a letter published Wednesday by the college’s student newspaper The Beacon, senior Goutham Sundaram said he was "profoundly sorry" for his comments during the Sunday banquet. He explained that personal "blindspots" led him to believe his remarks were suitable at the time and said he planned to address those concerns by talking more with his peers, professors and community leaders.

"When I wrote the script for the Wally’s, I hoped to use self-deprecation and irony as a tool for sharing a few stories about my immigrant and diaspora experience," Sundaram’s letter said. "I realize now that it does not matter what was written in jest or what was said in sarcasm; the crux of the content was grossly inappropriate, and I am unquestionably in the wrong for that."

Sundaram was the host of the awards banquet. During his opening speech, he claimed he wanted a "locker room" atmosphere, suggested his parents’ immigration from India "would be worth it if he could ‘hook up with a white girl,’" and made other sexual innuendos and remarks, according to an editorial published Monday from The Beacon’s news and managing editor, who also attended the banquet as a student athlete.

Several people walked out during the speech, but others, such as University President Father Mark Poorman, remained seated, the editorial said. The piece notes a majority of the crowd appeared to laugh at Sundaram’s monologue. He was later ushered off the stage.

Later Monday, Poorman emailed an apology to university students and staff, mentioning Sundaram being off the tennis team. The student also gave a brief apology that day.

On Tuesday, Poorman issued a longer apology to the school community, saying he should have done more to stop the speech and that public forums are in the works to discuss what the college is doing to promote a harassment and violence-free campus.

"In a community where we work so hard to ensure all members feel safe and respected, sometimes it is through experiencing events like this firsthand that we can truly learn," the statement said. "Sometimes we teach our students, and sometimes our students teach us."

— Everton Bailey Jr.

ebailey@oregonian.com
503-221-8343; @EvertonBailey

A bat a glove rest on the ground during a spring training baseball practice in 2015. Backers of an MLB-to-Portland effort have lobbied City Hall for support and offered to buy two proprties in Portland for stadium construction.

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