Gonzaga Prep launches yearbook audit in wake of racist photo

Gonzaga Prep launches yearbook audit in wake of racist photo
Gonzaga Preparatory High School

The president of Gonzaga Prep has promised a full audit of the school’s yearbook collection, following the revelation of a racist photo from 1968.

The yearbook photo, featured in last weekend’s Spokesman-Review, showed a group of students wearing what appeared to be Ku Klux Klan robes. It also featured a caption that President Michael Dougherty described as racist.

“I am greatly disturbed for two reasons,” Dougherty said in a letter emailed to the Gonzaga Prep Community. “First, that such a gathering of our students took place, and that our students saw fit to dress, even mockingly, in the garb of a racist group that symbolizes hatred, terrorism and murder. Second, that a photo memorializing the event was permitted to be published in our yearbook, further implying that the school’s tacit approval of the event.”

Doughterty went on to say, “On behalf of the school, I apologize for the harm that this photo has caused and the racist attitudes that it has implicitly condoned, from 1968 to present. The purpose of our institution is to promote the sacred life and dignity of every individual, and from the perspective of today’s standards, I can only look back on this aspect of our past with sadness and regret. Despite my remorse, I am grateful for this opportunity to address our history and to learn from our past mistakes.”

Dougherty said he has reached out to minority communities in Spokane “to seek their insight for how we can best approach this teachable moment.”

He said he has chosen to redact the picture from the yearbook collections. “From now on,” Dougherty said, “students viewing the yearbook in the school collection will see, next to the redacted content, our official apology and explanation of why the content was redacted.”

Dougherty said they have initiated a review of the entire yearbook collection. “If we encounter images that promote violence, we will consider redaction,” Dougherty said. “We expect this review to provide a deeper understanding of the history of Gonzaga Preparatory School, we as work to promote a culture today that is known by its shared commitment to the Gospel values of justice, inclusion, and reconciliation.”

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