Isabel de la Torre ’16
We have all heard Saint Ignatius students Arthletics were predominantly mentioned. Rebecca Thompson of Waldorf High School said, referred to as “cherries,” along with a variety of other names and insults. People have preconceived notions of what SI students are like, what activities we engage in, and even what our socioeconomic backgrounds are. These problematic stereotypes can hinder students.
Over break, I interviewed seven high school and middle school students from San Francisco about their thoughts on SI and its students. Some of the most common stereotypes were related to socioeconomic status, diversity, and privilege.
One of the most concerning themes was diversity, not only ethnic, but also religious and socioeconomic. When thinking of SI, Cinthia Aleman of Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory said she thought of a school with “no diversity,” full of
“rich preppy white kids.” Dara Bach of Lowell High School, said, "When I think [of] SI, I think of wealthier Catholic kids.” They are not necessarily wrong: at
SI, 93% of the student body identifies as Christian, while only 30.29% of people living in San Francisco identify as such. Mutiara Carney of Taylor Middle School said, “The only SI students I know are rich, white peninsula kids.” At SI, only 40% of students identify as non-white. In San Francisco 51.5% of the population identifies as non-white.
Academics also came up. Aleman stated that she thought SI provided students with a “good…[but] expensive...education.” J’dah Thibeaux of Mercy High School in San Francisco remarked, “I’ve heard that SI is a school for…smart people.” “When I think of SI, I think of impressive sports teams.”
The concept of “privilege” can be dangerous. Aryana Senel of Claire Lilienthal School said “Not all but most [SI students]...think they have this advantage [over] everyone else.” This sense of entitlement creates challenges for students once they exit the sheltered environment of their home and school life because it prevents them from learning the critical connection between hard work and success. We must dispel the notion that we are somehow “elite” or superior; it is not only damaging to ourselves but also degrading to others.
Any overgeneralization of a community can be dangerous. It is certainly good to have strong academics and formidable sports teams, recognized by people outside our school community, but not all students are straight-A honor students or natural-born athletes.
At SI, there is an expectation of both academic and athletic excellence, a standard put in place not only by the school and families of SI, but by students of other schools as well. This standard puts a lot of pressure on our students, and many feel that to succeed they must excel in all areas, an unreasonable goal that can damage one’s self-esteem, happiness, and health. Students have different strengths; not every person can expect to be captain of varsity football or class valedictorian. The best place to start proving these misconceptions wrong is from within. How will you make a difference?
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