- Oct 27, 2017
The Web page for a Horace Mann Facebook group titled the “Men’s Issues Club” mocked a student organization on campus called the Women’s Issues Club. The 44 members of the parody club included children of both trustees and the legion of prominent names who send their children to Horace Mann, which sits in the top rung of private schools in New York. One club member referred to an English teacher as a “crazy ass bitch” and a French teacher as an “acid casualty.” Another boy boasted that he’s “the only person here who actually beats women when hes [sic] drunk. no joke,” while still another bragged that he had “banged” a teacher “in [the] music dept. bathroom” and “will get great college rec” for the accomplishment. The boys lamented Star Jones’s “fat and wrinkled ass,” “sex in the city,” and “feminism,” proclaiming, “WHERE DO THEY BELONG?!?!????!!! IN THE KITCHEN!! IN THE KITCHEN!!!” The club summed up its mission thus: “For too long men have not had a way to express themselves and their beliefs in society. Men need to have a voice, we aren’t meant to be seen and not heard. Let freedom ring, bitches.”
Meanwhile, the history department informed Danielle McGuire about the club specifically targeting her. From her computer in the history-department office, she logged on (using her married name) and stared at the screen, aghast. Immediately, she recognized the crude illustration of Tituba, whom she had lectured on last year. Tituba as Aunt Jemima, she thought. The artist had painted a racial slur. In every word on the page, McGuire saw herself depicted as a witch or a bitch. She trembled a little as she read the names of the members. There was the daughter of one board member, who had e-mailed from her daddy’s BlackBerry requesting extra credit. And the club’s creator, who daydreamed in class. A rich kid who got caught up in the wrong crowd. And then, McGuire saw the name that bothered her most. We’ll call him Jeffrey Robbins.
Jeffrey was McGuire’s most antagonistic student from sophomore U.S. history the previous year. Jeffrey challenged McGuire’s focus on liberal politics and civil rights, proposing to write his class research project on plagiarism in Martin Luther King Jr.’s speeches and saying that his hero was Roy Cohn—himself a Horace Mann alumnus.
Then, after lunch, McGuire and Sheehy were walking in front of Tillinghast Hall when a woman wearing alligator sunglasses stormed up to them. It was the trustee whose daughter had formed the anti-McGuire club.
“You logged into Facebook under a false name,” the woman said, glaring at McGuire.
“I had a right to defend myself against defamation,” McGuire responded.
“Students are just blowing off steam,” the trustee said. “They’re very stressed; it’s not unusual for them to say racist and sexist things … The site is private.”
After a Facebook Scandal, Horace Mann Is Forced to Ask What Values It Should Teach -- New York Magazine - Nymag
When students created Facebook pages that viciously attacked a teacher, and when their wealthy parents on the school’s board defended them, Horace Mann was forced to confront a series of questions: Is a Facebook page private, like a diary [...]
The article is quite a good read, but long and a little gossipy if you don't like that kind of thing. The TL;DR is that Horace Mann is an elite high school for the NYC upper class. Teachers got invited into Facebook student groups with false names, and saw all the students using racist and sexist language to complain about them. The administration did little to punish the students, and the trustees pressured the administration to slowly but surely push out the teachers involved.
What's fascinating about this article is that it was written in 2008. Yet the players are so familiar, it feels like it could have happened yesterday. The spineless administration and the powerful trustees. The alt-right students castigating their liberal professors. Private school drama and scandal is truly fascinating to me as someone who went to one of these institutions. It's a little troubling too, considering that the kids never had to face consequences and have grown up unscathed. If anyone has good stories to share, either their own or written, I'd love to hear them.