The school administration identified the creator of the since-deleted Instagram account @hwmeme, which contained explicit racist, sexist, homophobic and anti-semitic references to specific members of the sophomore class, Upper School Dean of Students Jordan Church said.
Students alerted Church of the account the day it was created, Sept. 26.
Director of Communications Ari Engelberg was able to shut down the Instagram account because the account had used the school logo and name in its profile picture and username, Church said.
Julia* ’21, who was one of the students targeted in the posts, said the posts were hurtful and unwarranted.
“I felt really upset and as if my privacy was violated,” Julia said. “I couldn’t believe this happened because I know people talk, but I never thought anyone would act on these ideas and statements.”
However, Julia said she was grateful that students spoke to the administration immediately about the account.
“Personally, I think [the student] was an outlier, and it seems like no one else would do this,” Julia said. “It’s important to recognize that things like this do happen, and it’s important to make it clear that it’s unacceptable.”
Head of Upper School Laura Ross spoke to the sophomore class third period Monday to discuss the impact of spreading those messages in the school community.
“They are people who got [the memes] who either laughed or did nothing, which is tantamount to supporting what the person said,” Ross said.
In order to move on from instances like these, Ross encouraged members of the community to discuss the importance of treating one another with respect and to address that these problems still exist.
“I hope people recognize the importance of continuing to have conversations about respecting everyone’s worth and the harm that can be caused by denying the dignity of other human beings,” Ross said. “I think some people think we are too busy to have conversations about the community and dig into these sort of things.”
This will serve as an example for students to be aware of their actions online, Ross said.
“What I said to the sophomores was, ‘I hope you are intrinsically recognizing that being in a diverse community like ours, surrounded by people who look differently and think differently than you is inherently valuable and making you better and making the world better,’” Ross said.
“‘If you’re not there yet, I hope you are recognizing that the things that you do and say are going to follow you for the rest of your lives.’”
*Names have been changed