After psychology professor Christine Blasey Ford accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of attempting to rape her in high school, news reports have characterized the culture of Georgetown Preparatory School as “booze-soaked,” even “misogynistic.” Georgetown Prep, Kavanaugh’s all-boys school, responded to these characterizations in a powerful statement on Wednesday.
The school admitted that teaching young men to live lives of virtue is difficult, but denied the ugly insinuations that Georgetown Prep has fostered a bad culture of drunkenness and sexual assault.
“The temptations, and the failings, presented in these stories are not unique to Georgetown Prep. The problems and abuses of alcohol and drugs, sexual assault and misconduct, emotional and physical violence toward others are real; educators at every institution of primary, secondary, or higher learning in our nation face these problems every day,” the school admitted in the statement.
But the school has striven to raise boys to become “men for others.”
“Jesuit schools, Georgetown Prep among them, have been working together since the 1970s to address these issues. We are proud of such documents as the Profile of the Graduate at Graduation which have guided our efforts on behalf of our students, their families, and our larger community for over 40 years,” Georgetown Prep added.
“But it is demonstrably false that such behavior or culture is tolerated, still less encouraged, at Georgetown Prep,” the school stated. “In fact, our curriculum is designed to guide students away from these malignant influences, and to guide them through reflection away from selfishness and towards a life of service for and with others.”
Furthermore, the school uses discipline to keep the boys in line. “We empower our faculty and staff to administer our rules and policies strictly but compassionately,” the statement added.
“Certain individuals have recently presented themselves as representing the culture of Georgetown Prep authoritatively. They do not,” Georgetown Prep declared. “The views they present may well represent their experience, but they do not represent our institutional or pedagogical goals, nor our efforts to implement those goals on behalf and out of a deep and abiding care for our students and their families, and for the larger culture in which they will work and live and raise their families.”
“The core of our mission is to be men for and with others,” the school noted. “Our own efforts are not always perfect nor do we always get it right, but they are good — deeply good, and we are pleased to be a community of professionals who labor hard to get it right and for the right reasons.”
The statement ended by noting that this is Georgetown Prep’s 230th anniversary. The school pledged that it “remains committed to guiding and safeguarding young men in a world where they will face distorted values and moral compromise but where they have the obligation and opportunity to work for good across a whole sphere of human endeavor.”
This statement followed an earlier defense of the school from its president, Rev. James R. Van Dyke, S.J. Van Dyke defended the school after merely two months as its president.
“Prep is a wonderful place, a wonderful school, a wonderful community. There is no denying that this is a challenging time for a lot of reasons. But it is a wonderful place, a wonderful school, a wonderful community,” he wrote.
“It’s also been tough to see the caricature that we have been painted with by some: that we are somehow elitist, privileged, uncaring,” Van Dyke added. He did not deny that Georgetown Prep is elite or privileged, but he insisted that the school community truly does care for “the poorest families in our area.”
“And I look to the community of parents who long ago formed and continue to pilot to the Community of Concern to help our new parents deal with and educate their sons about the false allure of alcohol, drugs, tobacco, and other destructive habits,” the president added.
No school is perfect, but Georgetown Prep does not encourage a “booze-soaked” culture of sexual assault. In the turbulent debates about Kavanaugh and sexual assault, it is important for the school to defend its honor and respond to allegations that its culture encourages drunkenness and predation.
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