Society

Catholic School Students Suspended Over Racist Theme Party

| by Karin Sun
Instagram photo of students at the "wigga" partyInstagram photo of students at the "wigga" party

A group of students have been suspended from St. Ignatius College Preparatory School in San Francisco for attending a racist theme party over the weekend.

The party, which took place at the recreation center in the city's Parkside neighborhood on Jan. 23, featured a "wigga" theme, according to SF Gate. The word "wigga," also referred to as "wigger," is a combination of "white" and the n-word, and it refers to a white person who tries to emulate stereotypical African-American dress and mannerisms.

About 80 to 100 students from five different area high schools, including St. Ignatius, attended the event, CBS San Francisco reports. The party came to the attention of school officials after 14 students from the school posted pictures on Instagram.

The students who posted the photos were immediately suspended, St. Ignatius principal Patrick Ruff told SF Gate.

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Ruff added that he was saddened to learn of the incident.

"We work really hard to educate our young men and women on issues of equity and inclusion," Ruff said. "We've been doing this work for years, but now we have a concrete example that will give us an opportunity to have a conversation."

St. Ignatius administrators first learned of the party when members of the school's Black Student Union discovered pictures of the event online and notified the director of the school's Office of Equity and Inclusion.

Nahrie Pierce, a 17-year-old senior at the school and the president of the Black Student Union, said that the school works hard to create an atmosphere of diversity and tolerance.

"Sometimes it can be difficult, but we have clubs and groups like the Black Student Union and we try hard to create space for our African American students," she said.

St. Ignatius administrators have posted this official message about the incident on the school's website on Jan. 28, according to CBS San Francisco:

Regardless of the intent of those who participated, their actions had an adverse effect on the community and on them. 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. … 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. Clearly, however, we have more work ahead of us in forming adolescents to be their best selves. Values of diversity, equity and inclusion are core school values. We also acknowledge that this is part of a larger national conversation, and we now have the opportunity to address this issue courageously and directly.

The statement also explained that the school held an assembly on Jan. 27 to address the incident and that the suspended students plan to get together with members of the Black Student Union "to engage in understanding, education, and teaching."

According to data published on the school's website, African Americans comprised only 3.6 percent of the St. Ignatius student body during the 2014-2015 school year, compared to 62 percent for Caucasian students, CBS San Francisco notes.

Sources: SF Gate, CBS San Francisco / Photo Credit: Instagram via CBS San Francisco

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