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The Role of Institutional Responsibility in Light of Brett Kavanaugh

Following the hearing addressing Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her in high school, a spotlight has opened on a history of toxic masculinity and elitism at college preparatory schools like the one Kavanaugh attended: Georgetown Preparatory School. An influx of letters of support from Dr. Ford’s classmates at the Holton-Arms School, sister school of Georgetown Preparatory School, are particularly indicative of the privileged culture of Georgetown Preparatory School at the time.

One such letter, signed by over 1,000 alumna of Dr. Ford’s high school, declared, “Dr. Blasey Ford’s experience is all too consistent with stories we heard and lived while attending Holton. Many of us are survivors ourselves.”

An interview with Sean Hagan, who was a student at Georgetown Prep alongside Kavanaugh, describes Kavanaugh and his friends as “very disrespectful, at least verbally, with Renate,” another affiliated Girl’s Preparatory School in the area.

Furthermore, in the past decade, dozens of sexual assault scandals have been unearthed from top Prep Schools of the Northeast. The expulsion of five varsity hockey players for sexually assaulting a fifteen year old student at the prestigious Milton Academy even inspired a Lifetime Movie entitled Restless Virgins. A simple search on The New York Times or The Boston Globe will unveil numerous incidents of sexual misconduct by both students and faculty at all of the top Preparatory Schools in the Northeast. The expansive list includes institutions like The Lawrenceville School, The Brooks School, The Delbarton School, and Fordham Preparatory School, schools which typically send several members of their graduating class to Boston College each year.

Illumination of these scandals seems to have pushed these elite institutions to take accountability for their students’ well-being and seek to amend cultures of privilege and elitism. Additionally, the increasingly diverse demographics of these schools have made open discussion of identity essential.

“There was definitely a preexisting culture of elitism that the administration made an active effort to change,” Zander Kurowski, Lawrenceville '18 and MCAS '22, admits. “That’s why so many residential life speakers, workshops, lunch and dialogues, and school-wide events were catered to talking about our identities and privileges, and especially how that plays into our relationships."

Marshall DeCain, Georgetown Prep '18 and MCAS '22, reflected on his time at Georgetown Prep as “a school very similar to BC. It emphasized the same Jesuit values of being men and women for all, striving for equality and making a positive change in the world.”

In response to allegations of Georgetown Prep breeding toxic masculinity and elitism, DeCain emphasized that he “didn’t see that culture at all while at Georgetown Prep.”

Students who attended top prep schools before arriving at BC express a common experience of witnessing evolving cultures and administrative changes that directly address privilege, identity, and consent. It is unclear whether these developments are in response to the history of scandals, growing diversity, or a general greater awareness of social issues occurring in the schools. Nevertheless, in the past few years, there has been a noticeable and necessary shift towards reflecting on experience and identity in order to combat intersectional social issues of gender roles and privilege that ultimately impact everyone—regardless of who you are or where you come from.

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