No One Is Safe from Bad Things

Clark was a legendary reformer. As dean of undergraduate admissions at Yale in the 1960s, he broke that institution’s habit of simply accepting students from fancy boarding schools, whatever their academic standing; instead, he started scouring the country for the most talented, highest-achieving students from any school and any background. “You will laugh,” William F. Buckley Jr. wrote in 1967, “but it is true that a Mexican-American from El Paso High with identical scores on the achievement test and identically ardent recommendations from the headmaster, has a better chance of being admitted to Yale than Jonathan Edwards the Sixteenth from Saint Paul’s School.” As more minorities started appearing in the freshman classes, the university’s alumni and trustees did not laugh. But the rest of the Ivy League followed Clark’s bold lead, forever altering the history of the American meritocracy.

The New York Times Magazine’s story about the history of sexual abuse at fancy NY prep school Horace Mann is horrific.  And it’s actually worse, because at the end the writer is like: This is just a little bit of it, because most people won’t talk about it, because, sex, and also power and also money. But the piece is about more than just salacious details and scandal. It’s also a really interesting look into the culture of fancy prep schools, the likes of which I, at least, only know from Rushmore and Gossip Girl. The writer attended the school on scholarship, and visiting the school through his eyes is fascinating. Also: This one dude opened up the Ivy League to mere mortals—that is super cool. (He was not a sexual predator.) (But someone he had dinner with at least once was.) (Scandals of classic prep schools.) (This isn’t funny, why I am trying to make this funny.) (Because that is how humans deal with horrific things, sometimes.)

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