Furious alumnae of an all-girls Catholic high school in Kansas City bombarded their alma mater this week calling for more severe punishment for a group of girls who played beer pong with cups in the shape of a swastika.
But the president of St. Teresa’s Academy said Friday that expulsion for the students involved was the “wrong solution.”
“Many of you have questioned the consequences and called for expulsion of the students involved,” president Nan Bone wrote in a message posted to the school’s Facebook page.
“While we respect your opinion, expulsion is the wrong solution in this situation. We live the mission of the Sisters of St. Joseph. Our students are taught to care for the dear neighbor, ‘neighbor to neighbor, without distinction.’ That teaching guides us in every decision we make.”
More than a dozen alumnae, parents and current students have contacted The Star to express outrage over the school’s handling of the incident.
Citing privacy reasons, St. Teresa’s Academy did not say how it disciplined the group of students. It did say the school had conducted an internal investigation and concluded students had been drinking underage.
Sources told The Star that the students received an in-school suspension, called a reflection day. Some have suggested that students briefly had to skip athletic or extra-curricular events but played in major sports games and will attend an upcoming school dance.
In the images, which were posted on the social media application Snapchat, a group of girls gather around a ping-pong table, smiling and pouring beer into Solo Cups.
The cups are arranged in the shape of a swastika.
“Girls night,” reads one caption.
Reports of teenagers playing a beer pong game with a “Jews vs. Nazis” theme have circulated throughout the country.
One student was expelled, five students disciplined and two more banned from extra-curricular activities at an Atlanta school after pictures surfaced of such a beer pong game.
In the photos shared with The Star of the Kansas City students, the swastika is left-leaning, a traditional version of the symbol. The Nazis used a right-leaning swastika.
School officials called the swastika a “hate symbol” in statements made this week. Alumnae said they interpreted the symbol as one of bigotry, and that students should be punished more severely to reflect that.
“Their core values are mutual respect, integrity, compassion and justice,” alumna Maddie Summers told The Star on Thursday. “From my point and view, we are not seeing the justice we deserve from this.”
Bone said Friday that new initiatives would be announced in the coming weeks to address issues raised by the incident.
“The last week has been a challenging one,” Bone wrote. “Our job as educators is to use these incidents, when they occur, as opportunities to teach our young women what it means to care about their dear neighbor. We have more work to do.”