Photo via Flickr user Kolin Toney
If you look at the Lovett School's Facebook page, it embodies everything you'd expect from a private school that costs around $25,000 per year: there's an obligatory shot of its stone lion mascot wearing a pair of eclipse glasses, a group pic of a student trip to Ecuador's Cloud Forest, and a congratulatory message for a girl who won a barrel-racing competition. The one picture they didn't include is the one that has raised eyebrows across the country, a Snapchat screenshot of a student's game of Jews vs. Nazis beer pong.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that five seniors were suspended from the Atlanta school and one was expelled—reportedly the one who both set up the game and took the now-infamous photo of the table. In this variation of beer pong, which has also been called "Alcoholocaust" and "Holocaust Pong," the red Solo cups are arranged into the shapes of a swastika and a star of David.
The student who hosted the party—and presumably brought international shame into his parents' rec room—was one of the suspended individuals; those suspended will have the opportunity to reapply to the school after being placed on a very expensive year-long time-out. Two other students who watched the game have been suspended from "co-curricular activities" for the first two weeks of this school year. (And not only was this appalling and indefensible on a number of levels, it was also completely unoriginal: a group of Princeton, New Jersey high schoolers were busted for playing it last year; they, too, were caught thanks to a Snapchat screenshot).
William S. Peebles, the headmaster of the school, sent a letter to parents explaining his decision to expel and suspend the participating students, and argued that the kids didn't necessarily realize how offensive the game might be to some. According to the AJC, Peebles said that, after a thorough investigation, the administration doesn't believe the students "had malice in their hearts" or were prejudiced against Jews.Rabbi Peter Berg might be less convinced. He is the one who reported the photograph to the school's headmaster, and was both shocked and appalled by the students' game. "The fact that someone could even conceive of such a game, and then play it and think it's funny is beyond words," Berg told WSB-TV. (Berg later praised Lovett's swift response as "phenomenal.")"Two weeks ago, The Lovett School was made aware that several students, and students from other schools, were involved this summer in an off-campus incident with anti-Semitic overtones and other violations of Lovett's character pledge and student handbook," the Lovett School told MUNCHIES in a statement. "The school pursued an immediate investigation, and significant responses—including disciplinary action and counseling—have been undertaken. Character education is at the heart of all we do at Lovett, and we deeply appreciate the individuals and organizations across our community who are helping us to continue to learn and grow from this very troubling incident."On its website, the Lovett School says that it is "committed—with shared purposes and principles—to improving our school, our city, our society, our environment, and our world." Weeding out the fledgling anti-Semites is a pretty solid way to improve the school and society, we'll give them that.