Black student body president at nation's most expensive prep school
forced to resign after offensive photos of her dressed as 'typical'
white, male students emerge
- Maya Peterson was Lawrenceville School's first black, female student body president
students said she had a history of alienating large groups of students
with her racially charged comments and photos on social media websites
- In addition to the photo, Peterson attached hashtags like '#romney2016,' '#confederate,' and '#peakedinhighschool.'
- When Obama was re-elected, Peterson wrote 'sorry to all the rich white men
who have failed to elect a president that endorses their greed' on one of her social media accounts
- Fellow students describe Peterson as having a 'hateful spirit'
20:12 EST, 30 June 2014
22:19 EST, 30 June 2014
black student body president at a pricey New Jersey prep school was
forced to resign from her leadership position earlier this year after
she posted a series of photos on the Internet, in which she is seen
dressed as what she describes to be the typical male, white student at
the photos, former Lawrenceville School Student Body President Maya
Peterson is seen wearing L.L. Bean duck boots, a Yale University
sweatshirt and is holding a hockey stick, which she says is
representative of the typical 'Lawrenceville boi.'
In addition to the photos, she added hashtags like '#romney2016,' '#confederate,' and '#peakedinhighschool.'
'Racist': Maya Peterson's classmates at the Lawrenceville School found this photo and the accompanying hashtags to be offensive
In a lengthy article on the Buzzfeed
website, Peterson explains that the photos were meant as a joke in
response to complaints made by students about her senior photos, in
which she and 10 friends - all of whom were black - are seen raising
their fists in a 'Black Power' salute.
'I understand why I hurt people’s feelings, but I didn’t become
president to make sure rich white guys had more representation on
campus,' she told the website. 'Let’s be honest. They’re not the ones that feel
Some of Peterson's classmates, however, didn't see the humor in her 'racist' photos.
'You’re the student body president, and you’re mocking and blatantly
insulting a large group of the school’s male population,' one student
commented on the photo.
Peterson's response to the comment only made things worse.
Prep: Lawrenceville School in New Jersey is the most expensive high school in America
Controversial: Peterson's election as student body president was controversial
'Yes, I am making a mockery of the right-wing, confederate-flag hanging,
openly misogynistic Lawrentians,' Peterson responded. 'If that’s a
large portion of the school’s male population, then I think the issue is
not with my bringing attention to it in a lighthearted way, but rather
why no one has brought attention to it before…'
March, about three weeks after posting the photos on social media
websites, administrators at the $53,000 per year school - the most
expensive high school in the country - told her that she would face
disciplinary action if she did not resign from her position as student
students and faculty members felt the images were offensive, and that
'it was not fitting of a student leader to make comments mocking members
of the community,' Dean of Students Nancy Thomas told the Lawrenceville
Peterson's take on race has irritated her classmates in the past, as well.
Weed: In addition to the racial overtones to much of her social media accounts, photos emerged of Peterson smoking marijuana
2012, following the re-election of President Barack Obama, Peterson
wrote on Facebook about how proud she was that an African-American was
president - and threw in a sarcastic jab at white people.
'As a black and Latino, gay woman in the United States of America, today
is a momentous day,' she wrote. 'I’m sorry to all the rich white men
who have failed to elect a president that endorses their greed.'
Some of her classmates felt the Facebook post was racist.
gonna have to assume from your political beliefs and what you’ve said
that you do not pay for your Lawrenceville tuition in its entirety,' one
student wrote. 'But do
you know who pays for that? Yeah, that would be all those greedy white
men who actually worked for their fortune, not relied on the government
to support them. Just saying.'
Peterson's family paid full tuition at the school.
Inclusion: Students felt Peterson's actions did not promote inclusion at the school and only further divided the students
getting elected student body president worried many of her classmates,
as they believed she was alienating a large portion of the student body
with her controversial comments about white classmates.
after her election, an anonymous student sent photos of Peterson
smoking marijuana to school officials. The school received several other
complaints about Peterson, including charges that she posted racist
comments on Twitter about a fellow student who was a Sikh.
One former student said Peterson's photos - and overall attitude, 'violated the spirit of the Lawrenceville community.'
'It was hateful. It wasn’t inclusive,' the student, identified only as David, said. 'When I think of Maya Peterson, I
don’t think of someone who is an avid proponent of progress or of
inclusiveness. I think of someone who is hateful. She had a hateful