This morning, Georgetown Preparatory School released an official statement about the way media outlets have portrayed the school in the context of reporting on allegations against Judge Brett Kavanaugh, an alumnus.
The statement opens, “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. The following is a statement from Georgetown Preparatory School.”
It goes on to outline Georgetown Prep’s mission and ideals, in response to what the school sees as an effort to caricature the institution and paint a picture of a school culture within which sexual assault and other misconduct has been allowed to fester.
“I’m not here to speak to the credibility of anybody involved in the affairs on Capitol Hill,” said Father James Van Dyke, SJ, in a Wednesday afternoon interview with National Review. Father Van Dyke has been president of Georgetown Prep since July.
“We want to defend Georgetown Prep against an attack on our culture that has been ongoing for over a week now, without the school being asked to comment in any way, shape, or form by the media,” he said.
According to the school’s administration, when the New York Times contacted them yesterday evening, it marked the first time they’ve received a single request for comment since news broke of the first sexual-misconduct allegation against Kavanaugh nearly two weeks ago. Georgetown Prep officials point to a number of articles from mainstream outlets that characterized the school as permissive of misconduct without requesting comment.“Those speaking about Prep’s culture right now in the media are not speaking for the school, nor for what we hear from our alumni, or from the families we deal with,” Father Van Dyke said.
“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,” he added. “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.”
“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.
Coyle flagged this Washington Post piece in particular, noting that it attributed to quotes to Father Van Dyke without asking him for comment, instead using quotes from his letter to the school community. Father Van Dyke mentioned, too, a piece from The New Yorker entitled “The Boys’ Club That Protects Brett Kavanaugh,” which he said portrays Prep as a school that “protects the bad deeds of its students.”
“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 noted.
“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.”
He noted that the school has intervened in many instances of misconduct over its history, including involving parents, as well as that many students over the years have been suspended or expelled.