Last Monday, Natalia Martinez was suspended from Georgia State’s women’s soccer team after using the N-word on her “Finsta”, or fake Instagram, account and withdrew from the university just three days later.
The university sent The Signal a statement that morning notifying that, “The university is aware of a social media incident involving a student-athlete and the Dean of Students office had begun to look into the situation. On Monday, the student informed the Athletics Department she intends to withdraw from the university.”
Though Martinez didn’t get expelled, some believed her actions needed harsher consequences as she was not only a student, but also an athlete who represented Georgia State.
A student-athlete who wished to remain anonymous spoke on the honor of representing the university, and the responsibility that comes with it.
“Being a student-athlete, we’re held to the highest standards of the university. We wear the Georgia State logo and Panther head on everything we wear. During competitions away from Georgia State, we wear travel uniforms because we are a representation of our university and we must act accordingly. Our faces are on posters and we often find our names on Twitter next to [Georgia State] Athletics handles,” the source said.
Student-athletes are often the most famous names of the university and have the most recognizable faces on campus.
“It is unfortunate to see this happen to a student-athlete. However, her actions render the consequences. I believe the quote ‘one bad apple spoils the whole bunch’ does not apply to this situation, but it does leave a bad reputation for the women’s soccer team,” the anonymous student-athlete said.
Georgia State Athletics’ original message provided the day of Martinez’s suspension read, “We do not tolerate the language the student used in her post. Pursuant to our student-athlete code of conduct, she has been suspended from the soccer team.”
The anonymous student-athlete added, “There is no place for her comment to be made in any circumstance. To be completely honest, the word should not even be used anyway by anyone. But the fact that she posted it on a private page made it even more disrespectful, hoping that it would limit the amount of people who saw her inappropriate comment.”
Luke Osterle, former goalkeeper for the Georgia State men’s soccer team said the post wasn’t only disrespectful to the university’s diversity, but to Martinez’s teammates as well.
“This is the right of free speech but at the same time, our school is very diverse, her team is very diverse, and I don’t think it’s appropriate for her to say that word,” Osterle said.
The women’s soccer team has four players from three countries other than the U.S. In total, student-athletes on the 2017-2018 rosters of Georgia State’s 15 sports have hometowns in 25 U.S. states and 26 countries.
Georgia State graduates the most black students in the entire country and has one of the most diverse student populations. The U.S. News and World Report ranks Georgia State 11th in Campus Ethnic Diversity.
That diversity is what Mike Holmes, assistant athletics director at Georgia State, had talked to The Signal about one year ago.
“Atlanta as a city has a name recognition that schools like UGA in Athens or University of Auburn in Auburn, Alabama do not. It ends up being a very major recruiting tool, that and our diversity,” he said.
Holmes mentioned a lifeline of a program’s success — recruiting. Recruiting is about getting players to come to the particular school for what the university can offer, whether tangible or abstract.
“As a whole, the student-athlete population is extremely diverse; not only at [Georgia State] but across the nation. Students from all over the world come to the U.S. to use their talents and compete nationally at the collegiate level,” said the anonymous student athlete.
Osterle said that even though Martinez didn’t violate the Code of Conduct, her actions were “just way over the top.”
“Someone can always find things on social media. Posting something with a caption that has a racial slur is not OK and I think all the consequences that she suffered are right on for that,” he said.