Dublin boarding school reviewing racism allegations from pupils
St Columba’s ‘is committed to shining a searchlight into these issues,’ says warden
St Columba’s College has issued a statement confirming steps were being taken to investigate allegations of racism from a number of former students and current pupils.
A private school in south Dublin has begun a review into allegations from past and current pupils.
St Columba’s College, a boarding and day school for Irish and international student with fees of up to €29,000 per year, has received the complaints in the past week.
The school, in Whitechurch, Dublin 16, has issued a statement confirming steps were being taken to investigate allegations of racism from a number of former students and current pupils.
The Irish Times understands some of the students who have made complaints are black and have alleged racism within the school during their time there.
In reply to queries from The Irish Times on Sunday, the school confirmed it received an initial complaint last weekend, followed by others coming forward with more allegations, and that it was acting on the complaints.
“On Sunday, May 31st, St Columba’s College was contacted by a former pupil of the college, who bravely shared with us her experiences of racism while attending the school,” said warden of St Columba’s College Mark Boobbyer.
“Her actions motivated other people, both former and current pupils, to share similar experiences. We can only imagine how difficult it was for the young people involved to write down those experiences. We thank them for having the courage to bring these matters to our attention.
“The board and management of St Columba’s College is taking these matters very seriously and are taking a number of steps to address and respond to the issues raised.
“The college has established an independent review to consider the issues raised by the pupils and former pupils and specifically to evaluate whether there is a culture of racism, direct or indirect, within the college and, importantly, to make appropriate recommendations arising out of the review.
“This review is being conducted by an experienced legal and governance professional and involve others with expertise in the area of cultural diversity, with direct experience within an educational setting. We have asked those working on the review to conduct it within a six-week period. This is to allow sufficient time to ensure that the process is thorough and robust.”
The statement from Mr Boobbyer continued: “The college is committed to shining a searchlight into these issues, which are of the utmost importance to the college community and are part of a wider discourse in society.
“I very much hope that the conversation which will ensue from this process will be a catalyst that will allow us to ensure the care for our pupils is of the highest standard. Where there are lessons to learn we will not be afraid learn them.”
St Columba’s College caters for day and boarded pupils with fees ranging from €8,654 per year to €28,742 for senior pupils who board.
The school is situated on a 140-acre campus at Kilmashogue Lane in the foothills of the Dublin mountains, overlooking Dublin Bay. It was founded in Co Meath in 1843 and moved to south Dublin in 1849.
It describes itself as having a “Church of Ireland foundation and ethos” but also “warmly welcomes pupils of all other faiths and indeed no faith” and has an ethos that is “inclusive and tolerant”.