St. Ignatius College Preparatory, a prestigious Catholic high school in San Francisco, suspended 14 students after it was discovered they participated in a racist “wigger” party last week.
The school, which boasts a majority White student body, has commented on the offensive Jan. 23 party, which came to light after photos of students dressed in baggy jeans and other stereotypical articles of clothing made the rounds on Instagram.
The school’s principal, Patrick Ruff, told ABC 7 the decision to suspend the students was in part due to the fact that the racist behavior goes against the school’s values.
“It’s so contradictory to who we are and who we want to be,” Ruff said, addressing the “wigga”-themed festivities. “Wigga,” a combination of White and the n-word, is often used to refer to White people “acting Black” or irresponsibly appropriating Black dress and culture.
“So students were dressing in clothes that were inappropriate and appropriated the worse of black culture and it’s a gathering that simply we cannot tolerate and will not tolerate,” Ruff said, according to the report.
The hurtful act of perpetuating and spreading negative stereotypes, however, was lost on students and parents who thought the punishment too severe for those simply emulating “images in popular culture.”
“The word is politically incorrect, but I think as a culture and our current generation that we have become desensitized to the meaning behind the word,” student Elisabeth Wagner said.
“Some of the kids might have just checked it out to see what was going on or to go to the party, but I’m pretty sure that all the kids that were there weren’t exactly there for that reason,” parent David Lofton said.
St. Ignatius students are the only students who were disciplined for the party, although other high schools in the Bay Area attended the function.
“Over the years, we have done much work in the area of diversity through the school’s Office of Equity and Inclusion, which is an integral part of our school community,” a statement on the school’s website read.
“Clearly, however, we have more work ahead of us in forming adolescents to be their best selves.”