Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Prep School Prejudice At Andover Historically

During the 20th century, the elite prep schools of the U.S. power elite--like Andover--apparently reflected the racial and religious sectarian prejudices of 20th-century U.S. society in general. As G. William Domhoff and Richard L. Zweigenhaft noted in their 1991 book Blacks in the White Establishment? A Study of Race and Class in America:

"Not surprisingly, there is considerable evidence that prep school administrators and students have demonstrated many of the same prejudices found in the larger society over the years. The experiences of Jews and blacks at Andover are instructive because that school has long prided itself on educating `youth from every quarter,' and it was one of the first boarding schools to accept black students. Frederick Allis's history of Andover, Youth from Every Quarter, is unlike any of the histories written about prep schools for it does not gloss over embarrassing or distasteful moments. Allis provides ample evidence that, for Jews and blacks at Andover, anti-Semitism and racism were likely to be part of their prep school experience. In the 1930s, when about 3 percent of the student body was Jewish, the headmaster wrote to a colleague: `We shall never have a larger percentage, and I am trying to reduce it just a little. On the other hand some of them make first class students and real leaders, although very few of them are permitted to hold important social positions.' Some Jewish students were given the `silent treatment' by the other students in their dormitory. And though Andover accepted black students relatively early, it did not accept very many, and they were not especially welcomed by the community. Prior to the 1950s, Allis writes, `the School had done little if anything for blacks.' For example, in 1944, in response to a request from an alumnus that Andover accept more black students, the headmaster responded that there were currently 2 black students at the school, and that accepting more might `cause trouble.'

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