Maya Peterson, a 2014 graduate of Lawrenceville School in New Jersey, was forced to resign from her position as student body president after she posted a photo mocking her fellow classmates — classmates who were Caucasian.
On her Instagram post, Peterson was wearing L.L. Bean boots and a Yale sweatshirt while holding a hockey stick. She described that the photo depicts a typical “Lawrenceville boi” accompanied by the hashtags “#romeny2016”, “#confederate”, and “#peakedinhighschool.”
Peterson identifies as African-American and Latino, and she is also openly gay. She is the first black woman to be elected as Student Body president.
She claimed that her post was simply a joke, but others felt differently, commenting that the student body president was insulting and offensive to a huge part of the student population.
Earlier in the year, the school’s dean received numerous complaints after Peterson and 10 African-American students posed for their senior photos with the “Black Power” salute.
One student commented on the photo, “You’re the student body president, and you’re mocking and blatantly insulting a large group of the school’s male population.”
“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…”
Three weeks after the post, Peterson was told by the school that she will face serious disciplinary actions if she does not resign from her position.
Dean of Students Nancy Thomas told Buzzfeed, “It was not fitting of a student leader to make comments mocking members of the community.”
According to her, many students were displeased with her election, and most of the complaints came from white males. They allegedly questioned if she was truly elected by the majority of the student population.
Peterson claims she won the election by outreaching to minority and freshmen students, who were overseen by her opponents.
“The younger kids told me they felt comfortable opening up to me in a way they didn’t with other people,” she said.
The Lawrenceville School in Princeton, N.J., was founded in 1810 and with a tuition of $53,000 it is the most expensive private school in the United States.