In response to poor reporting
Photo courtesy of boardingschoolreview.com
Katie J.M. Baker posted an article on BuzzFeed titled, “What Happens When A Prep School’s Black Student President Mocks Her White Male Classmates” on June 30, prompting a media frenzy. Major news outlets picked up the article, and a swarm of posts soon flooded my Facebook newsfeed.
As a 2012 Lawrenceville graduate, I was taken aback reading the article, but not because of what was written. Mainly, my frustration stemmed from what Baker failed to mention. I was not merely mad about what was said, but about how the information was presented. When pursuing a career in journalism, isn’t the first lesson you learn to be un-biased and to present both sides of a story? Where was the reporting?
As a Lawrenceville alumnus that spent three years there, I was confused as to why nothing about the school and its beliefs were included. While Lawrenceville was late in the game to accept black and even female students, the changes did occur. The institution that shaped who I have become and gave me a great education was now being questioned.
What Baker failed to mention was the number of discussions that Lawrenceville held on controversial topics or the countless influential speakers that came to the school. Students were constantly exposed to current events and controversial issues because the Lawrenceville School wanted us to realize that there are still many problems in the world.
While I may never know what Maya Peterson endured, I do know that Lawrenceville tried to shape us to be the best people we could be. That is where I find fault in the article. An educational institution cannot be fully responsible for its students’ character. While Maya Peterson should not have Instagrammed that photo because she was acting as a leader, the students quoted in the article should not have made such strong statements against her.
The Lawrenceville School has an honor code that all students know and must follow. The administration was doing what they would do in any situation when a person breaks the honor code.
“Every student knows we expect them to meet basic standards for honesty, integrity, and respect for others,” said a statement released by the Lawrenceville School. “In turn, we recognize that adolescents make mistakes and give our students every chance to be successful. But, they also know there are consequences for their actions and ultimately they will be held accountable for their behavior.”
That is why Maya Peterson was forced to resign. There were many students over the course of my three years at Lawrenceville that got expelled for breaking the rules. This is normal. The thing that sets Lawrenceville apart from other schools, though, is its two-strike policy. You are only expelled if you have two offenses. The administration hopes that you learn from your first mistake and do the right thing next time.
I am not trying to simply state my views on the recent article. I want to bring to light the issue that I have with the author. The issues that Baker brought up about Lawrenceville are seen on a daily basis all around us. The world still has a lot of changes to make, and while it is progressing, it continues to take time.
Moreover, the take-away is that this article lacks journalistic integrity. If I could offer any insight for people that did not attend this school it would be as follows:
It is not the Lawrenceville administration that is at fault here. Every boarding school is comprised of students of different races and different beliefs. The school’s responsibility is to expose students to the world around them and address many different thoughts, beliefs and biases as they come in. Lawrenceville has done just that. It is the inability of some of the students – on both sides – to learn their lesson.