In Defense of Lawrenceville

It’s odd to see your high-school blow up in the news, it’s even more odd when you feel a specific connection to the news piece itself.

I’m referring to this absolutely trash piece of sensationalist drivel, “What Happens When A Prep School’s Black Student President Mocks Her White Male Classmates“.

TL:DR, the school president I voted for our senior year broke school rules and was voted out by HER OWN STUDENT COUNCIL.

But if you read the article you’d think it was the start of a goddamn race war. I’ll lay the facts on the table, specifically about the instagram fiasco since that’s what most people are going on about.

The article completely misses what was offensive about the photo. No one cares that she made fun of preppy kids. I do that all the time. Every student of Lawrenceville does that all the time. What people cared about was she targeted a very specific group of kids on campus (yes you clickbait authors, stop calling them white “men”, they’re kids).

Her post mentioned in the hashtags a specific dorm on campus (the Cleve house). And also featured a rather misogynistic hashtag of #wherearethepucksluts.

Now, did the kids in Cleve have it coming? Maybe. But anyone who thinks it’s appropriate for a school president to call a certain group of boys (not everyone in Cleve is white!!) “confederates” and a certain group of girls “sluts” should face disciplinary action.

I like Maya, so what I find even funnier is that she commented on the entire fiasco herself but no one noticed except me. She’s under an alias but if you check the FB url, it’s her. The comment can be found here, in which she writes in regards to “why she was forced to resign”:

I think it was a mixture of a lot of systematic issues (not only race) as well as my own mistakes. I am not undeserving of what happened. That being said, ignorance, microagressions, and the unintentional marginalization of people of color, queer people, people who are not wealthy, disabled people, people with mental illness, so on and so forth in the world and especially in prep schools like Lawrenceville did play a role in what happened. These issues need to be spoken about. Whether or not I am to be considered right or wrong (if that can be determined) is not what’s important. I am not and will never be what’s important in this conversation. What’s important is the reality that racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, classism, ableism and other forms of discrimination are REAL and IMPORTANT. What’s important is that privilege exists and it leads to the unfair punishment and treatment of those who are not fortunate enough to benefit from the institutional hegemony that exists in the world that places white, wealthy, straight, cisgendered men on top.

I agree with her completely. She admits her own mistakes, and furthermore she admits prep school is a hierarchical place. Everywhere is. I wasn’t rich (I went to school on financial aid), I wasn’t popular, I didn’t get the best grades, I wasn’t that athletic, I was a nerd (that’s why I got anime pictures on the top of this blog) and occasionally I got teased for things like that.

I’m angry as much at the bullying in American schools as she is. Sure, I didn’t get called a nigger. I doubt I faced even close to the amount of ostracization she did. I’m not going to erase her own experience either, but what I will say is that I’m even more angry at the irresponsible and blatant political charge that’s been attached this incident.

I’d like to post a friend’s thoughts on the issue, he didn’t write this for publication so just ignore the internet vernacular:

You probably already know this, but the real villian of this story is that clown of an author, Katie J.M. Baker. She doesn’t give two shits about Maya or what she stands for, all she cares about are those sweet, sweet pageviews. She’s using Maya as a liberal martyr to ignite flame wars in the comments and further line her pockets with ad revenue. 

Even though we were acquaintances at best, Maya was still a decent person who just made some dumb choices in life. Did she deserve to get depresidented? Maybe. Did she deserve publicity in the thousands, possibly soon to be millions for what she did in high school? lel no. Even when the article fades into the asscrack of internet obscurity, this will still be among the first page of results when future employers google Maya’s name. Though i’ve disagreed with a lot of her actions, I can’t help but to think of Maya as a tragic anti-hero who has fallen from grace.

In the end however, I have still played right into Katie J.M. Baker’s hand, as my clicks have contributed to her already growing pageviews. Whatever, at least I have Adblock, so she will never get my internet Illuminati dollars.

Can’t we stop this garbage? America has issues with race, everyone knows that. This was not an issue with race. Well that’s probably not true, race definitely played a part. But please for the love of God let’s not pin Lawrenceville for being racist or the majority of her students for being racist. This was a complex issue that’s being blown out of proportion for the sake of race politics and furthering the divide between black and white.

I hope students of the Lawrenceville school can set this straight. Overall, maybe it’s a positive thing. Maya will certainly get a platform to talk about the oppression minorities face. I get my platform to rail against internet exploitation.

I just hope Lawrenceville’s reputation isn’t tarnished completely. That school gave me the best four years of my life so far and an amazing education.

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8 thoughts on “In Defense of Lawrenceville

  1. Andrew Brewer

    You nailed it. Buzzfeed can go to hell. I believe that Maya was a good person that just made multiple bad mistakes did she deserve being kicked from presidency probably. In the end she still got to walk across the stage.

    Reply
  2. Ashley Rabin

    I graduated from Lawrenceville in 2000 (my mom also taught there for 17 years) and my FB newsfeed has been inundated by this for the last two days. Thanks for the bit of humor and fresh perspective on a story that was presented without context.

    Reply
  3. KaydenJ

    Wasn’t “#wherearethepucksluts” used sarcastically? If the post was made from the perspective of the group she was trying to mock (I haven’t seen the full instagram post, I could be wrong), it sounds like she wasn’t calling them sluts, but commenting on the misogynistic ways of the boys she was imitating (ive personally heard male athletes using the term “puck sluts” at my school). Not that any of this matters anymore, I was just curious ~ totally agree w your article though

    Reply
  4. Michael Chan '09

    I was Lawrenceville ’09 and GWU ’13. I’m curious what your name is, and if we’ve connected before. Seems like we could have a very interesting conversation about this topic.

    Reply
  5. Andrew

    Lawrenceville ’10. The amount this has blown up on my Facebook feed is absurd. The buzz-feed article is not at all the culture I, or my “African american” peers experienced while attending. It’s media sensationalism in a age where investigative journalism consists of checking twitter, instagram and facebook. Absurd.

    Love the last line about AdBlocker

    Reply
  6. Alexandra

    Curious, since you are on the inside, what happened to the students who took the partially-nude photos and distributed them to the student body? And also to the kids who fabricated the bullying tweets? How did the administration handle these actions? Or is this more of the sensationalism fabricated by the Buzzfeed author?

    Reply
    1. suicidebycat Post author

      The photos were not “partially nude”, they were racy at best from what I’m told (I never saw them myself) but there was no nudity and they were barely distributed.

      As soon as they were found the house masters of the house they were found in made sure they were deleted from every phone they found.

      Sorry but that’s all I know. I’m not sure if they ever found out who distributed the photos.

      And with the tweets I don’t think they found out who did it either.

      Reply

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