Since the accusations against Judge Brett Kavanaugh began, Georgetown Preparatory School has been painted in a negative light. Kavanaugh's various accusers talk about the school's party scene which includes drinking.
On Wednesday morning, Georgetown Prep released a statement defending their commitment to the Catholic faith and denied that the "party scene" type of culture occurs on their campus:
Several media outlets, including The Washington Post and The New York Times, in pursuit of their own agenda, have published articles about and including Georgetown Preparatory School without seeking comment or response from the School.
As the oldest Catholic high school, and the only Jesuit boarding school, in the United States, Georgetown Preparatory School been dedicated to the mission of “forming men of conscience, competence, courage, and compassion; men of faith and men for others” since its founding in 1789.
That mission is grounded in our Ignatian Identity, and is our highest aspiration. At this moment, because our community is being disparaged, we are challenged to stand up for this mission, our values, and the integrity with which we attempt to live them out.
The image that has been presented on social media and in various news outlets depicts recklessness, illegal conduct, and lack of respect for persons. Worse, many blame these faults on institutional indifference.
But 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. Serious educators in public, private, religious, and secular schools as well as parents and families have been wrestling with the collateral damage of an out-of-control culture for many decades. 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.
But it is demonstrably false that such behavior or culture is tolerated, still less encouraged, at Georgetown Prep. 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. And we empower our faculty and staff to administer our rules and policies strictly but compassionately.
Certain individuals have recently presented themselves as representing the culture of Georgetown Prep authoritatively. They do not. 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.
It is all too easy to paint malicious stereotypes about a group of people based on assumptions about their gender, ethnicity, or their station in life. Part of our educational foundation is the continued evaluation of everything that we do, personally and institutionally, that we may live most fully the commandment to love God and neighbor.
The core of our mission is to be men for and with others. Our students take that call to service seriously and give of their own time and effort to stand with and serve others in our nation and in the world, broadening their understanding about the reality of poverty and oppression.
It is not that our students are perfect while they are here or even when they graduate; they are still learning, and we hope that they will continue to learn, not only at the intellectual level, but at the spiritual, moral, psychological, social and interpersonal levels as well. For every stage of their life will require that of them, both personally and professionally.
Georgetown Prep’s dedicated faculty and staff, coaches and moderators work to help our students prepare for life after Prep, to become men who will embrace the hard lessons and learn from them. 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.
Our ideals and aspirations are appropriately high; we will not compromise them nor waver in the pursuit of them. Of course, it means that reflection and evaluation, both personal and institutional, are always necessary as we grow in our understanding of what our community must do to help our students live up to their best hopes.
In our 230th year of forming men for and with others, Georgetown Prep 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 is our abiding mission, Georgetown Prep’s very reason for being, and the essential fabric of our whole school community.
According to Father James Van Dyke, President of Georgetown Prep, the school isn't commenting on the Kavanuagh accusations. The school is focused on defending their school's reputation.
“I’m not here to speak to the credibility of anybody involved in the affairs on Capitol Hill," Father Van Dyke told National Review. “We want to defend Georgetown Prep against an attack on our culture that has been ongoing for over week now, without the school being asked to comment in any way, shape, or form by the media."
Since the Kavanaugh accusations came out nearly two weeks ago, Georgetown Prep hadn't received any requests for comment up until Tuesday night when the New York Times finally contacted them.
“Stories the last two or three days in the Washington Post and the New York Times were particularly misrepresenting the school, but at the same time, not once until the Times last evening have they reached out to any of us for comment,” Patrick Coyle, director of marketing and communications at Georgetown Prep, told National Review.
The most interesting aspect: The Washington Post quoted Father Van Dyke in the piece without asking him for comment. Instead, the author used quotes from the school community letter.
What Father Van Dyke is most frustrated about is the way the media is portraying the school.
“People are trying to caricature us as a very elite, and elitist, very wealthy, very insulated, very uncaring school, a school that they claim has tolerated all sorts of behavior,” Father Van Dyke said. “That is demonstrably untrue and unfair. I would venture to say that it’s an untrue and unfair statement about the school in 1983 and I would venture to say earlier, and it is a demonstrably untrue and unfair statement about the school since.”
Father Van Dyke mentioned that in the past, the school has taken action against students who violate school rules. Parents have been involved and some students have been suspended and even expelled.
“About each of the allegations that I have heard, none of them happened on school grounds, and they were not reported to the school at the time in any way, shape, or form,” Father Van Dyke told National Review. “We’re well aware of the kinds of dumb mistakes that young people can make — men and women, by the way,” the president added. “But the response of the school has always been both caring and, at the same time, very directive. The school’s response was to remind students of the highest ideals, of the standards and policies of the school.”