Prep School Revolt Update

Photo: Hannah Whitaker/New York Magazine

“Jeffrey Robbins” strikes again. That was the pseudonym I gave Charles Stam, the former Horace Mann student-body president who was the ringleader of a scandal at the private school I wrote about in New York last year. Other students had created sexually explicit and racially charged Facebook groups that attacked a history teacher and the on-campus feminist group. The uproar eventually led to the departure of two teachers.

Last week, Stam, now a Columbia freshman, e-mailed a 2,000-word letter to the entire school because the student paper, the Record, wouldn’t publish his letter defending the current student leaders. He criticized recent moves by the high-school principal, David Schiller, to exert more control over student assemblies, and also the fact that school-funding rules make it difficult for other student publications to compete with the Record. “The Record board, not our student leaders, is out of touch,” Stam wrote. “They are elitists, have an inflated view of the importance of their own work, and have contempt for the average student.”

After Gawker posted an excerpt from Stam’s letter and referred to the 19-year-old as a “right-wing creep” and the “biggest loser in the world,” he was stung. “I am not the little Republican kid they think I am,” he told me on March 9. “I’m a pretty normal kid. I’m not a stiff.” It’s just that when the current student leaders told him about the climate, he decided he needed to go public with his views. Stam said he feels betrayed that Horace Mann didn’t stand up for him when the Facebook scandal broke in this magazine. “The least they could have done is defend me in the press,” he says. He’s especially angry that his political views have been caricatured. He says he’s conservative fiscally but is a social moderate (“I support civil unions”).

Now he’s had enough of Horace Mann. “Let me be clear: I’ve moved on,” he told me. “I don’t intend to return until my sister graduates.”

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Prep School Revolt Update