Understanding Prep’s Privilege

Annika Bjornson, Editor-In-Chief

At Seattle Preparatory School, our academic platform allows us to experience a wide variety of opportunities. Some would call this “privilege,” which refers to a special right, advantage, or immunity that is available only to a particular group of people. It is important to acknowledge the presence of privilege in our lives because it allows us to understand the importance of their voices in making a difference for those with less advantages.

In the hopes of gaining a sense of how Prep community members see or do not see privilege, I conducted some twenty interviews. To my surprise, there was a lot of variety in how people described the forms of privilege they see and experience. Some focused on the school itself and how small class sizes, access to counselors, use of technology, dedicated teachers, a beautiful campus, and a good cafeteria help us in our academic pursuits. Others focused on such things as socioeconomic status, race, etc. These are among the many thoughtful comments I received:

Wyatt Del Valle ’20: I would say I am very privileged and I am so grateful for it. I do feel that people seem to demonize privileged people as a way of making themselves look socially aware. I do know that I am giving endless opportunities that not all kids get, but that doesn’t mean that I think that those opportunities just come as a part of life. I know my parents have worked very hard to provide this lifestyle for me and I know it’s my job to work as hard as a I possibly can to provide the same luxury for my children. Not to say that people of lower income have not worked as hard or harder then my parents, because in life people can get dealt a very hard life, whether that be based on race or gender or being stuck in a cycle of poverty.

Kelsey Bulger ’18: We are provided with the best teachers that care about our well being, we are given access to art and sport facilities, our science labs are stacked with supplies, we have a very kind food service staff who work hard to make a plethora of options for us at lunch, [and] the administration works hard to create a safe and healthy learning environment for every student. Not to mention the colleges perception of a Prep grad. Student here aren’t only cultivated academically but taught about what it means to be a whole person, retreats, dances, and a well rounded education is all made possible by Prep. We have a community and support system that fight for each student. I always will free blessed for my admission to Prep.

Helen Simmons ’20: I totally recognize that I have a lot of privilege in life because I’m a white, straight, cis person, gone to private school my whole life, and I’ve never had to help my parents pay bills or work. I [also] see privilege in our school when the boys laugh and joke around about creating a “white student union” or a “boys support group” but don’t actually see the purpose and value of FIG, One Voice, AAA, Latinx Club and BSU in general.

Cole Thieme ’18: I think for the most part the prep student body is blessed with exceptional luck when it comes to privilege. In wealth and in social status, almost everyone is off to a great start. There seems to be a guilt behind admitting that, however. I think people should embrace their social standing and use their blessings to help a common good instead of forcing false modesty to look more down to earth.

Anna Petgrave ’17: I think ultimately the impact of feeling privilege is going to come from how aware you are of your own privilege and if it’s something that even matters to you.

María Ganz ’18: The biggest example of privilege at Prep that comes to mind is wasting food. Since I went on a mission trip to Nicaragua last year, I’ve become more conscious of how much food I consume every day. While I was there, the meal portions were a lot smaller than portions here in Seattle, and when I returned to school this year, I noticed more than ever how much people take food for granted…I think everyone at Prep, including myself, has been guilty of wasting food just because we felt full, and I think we should acknowledge this privilege, by buying as much food as we know we’ll eat, rather than buying more food than is necessary.

Kate Leahy ’19: I think that for the most part, Prep does a good job of creating an inclusive community where everyone, no matter what race, religion, orientation etc, can be accepted. However, when I look around the school, I see that most people look like me. Although there are clubs and curriculums through classes like collegio that expose students to all different backgrounds of the world (which I think are important to learn about), I don’t think everyone is as aware of these social issues as they should be. In my theology class we read an article about race allies and have been talking a lot about white privilege and how it is something uncomfortable for many to discuss, but doing so in an environment where we all support each other has been really eye opening and beneficial for us all.

Marcus Brown ’18: I am the luckiest person on earth for two reasons. I know Christ and I was born in the US of A…I am only alive today because of the Grace of God and His love visible in some of the people around me.

The resources we have at school and the lifestyles we experience at home are very different from person to person, but we all have something to be grateful for that can be used for positive in the world. Though privilege is not something to be ashamed of, it is something to recognize in order to develop a stronger global perspective. As we delve into important topics that have effects beyond ourselves, it is essential that we follow our passions to contribute to the greater good.