San Francisco — St. Ignatius College Preparatory High School has suspended 14 students for their participation in a Jan. 23 outdoor party that "had an inappropriate theme with racial overtones and racist implications," school officials said in a Jan. 28 statement posted on the school's website.
Students at the party, organized by non-St. Ignatius High students and attended by students from several high schools, "wore clothing that appropriated pervasive negative stereotypes of Black culture," the statement said. "We categorically condemn this gathering as it does not represent the Ignatian values or ideals that our school stands for, and thus we are called to respond."
The students were suspended on Jan. 26 when administrators learned of the party, held at Sigmund Stern Grove. Earlier that day, several other students had shown the school's deans photos of the party posted on social media by some of the school's participants.
Principal Patrick Ruff told the San Francisco Chronicle "It's disheartening and incredibly sad this type of thing exists not just for SI, but for the entire city. … This is a critical juncture for us. "
The school has provided the faculty with discussion resources and is encouraging all teachers to use the incident as a "teachable moment" in its mission of equality and justice.
Administrators also plan to use a restorative justice model that will bring the suspended students together with members of the school's Black Student Union "to engage in understanding, education and healing," according the statement.
The co-ed school, founded by the Jesuits in 1855, has about 1450 students, of whom 55 percent are Caucasian. The other 45 percent are Asian American, Latino and African American.
The school's statement about the racist incident included mention of its Office of Equity and Inclusion. "Clearly, however, we have more work ahead of us in forming adolescents to be their best selves," it said. "In the end, we want our Ignatian ideals to carry the day. SI stands for community, respect and the value of every student."
[Monica Clark is an NCR West Coast Correspondent. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.]