Soon after Peterson's election, Dean of Students Nancy Thomas told students she had received anonymous photographs that included evidence of marijuana usage and inappropriate tweets by Peterson. As detailed in an article in The Lawrence, the school newspaper, the tweets were found to be fabricated, and Peterson apologized for the drug usage.
The yearbook "salute" and Instagram photo were the final straw. Peterson was ousted as student-body president.
CNN confirmed Peterson has since graduated from The Lawrenceville School.
"I understand why I hurt people's feelings, but I didn't become president to make sure rich white guys had more representation on campus," she said.
"Let's be honest. They're not the ones that feel uncomfortable here."
Other students disagree, and believe The Lawrenceville School serves all its students with integrity.
Lindsey Gallinek, a 2012 Lawrenceville alumna now at Wake Forest University, posted a response to the BuzzFeed article titled, "In response to poor reporting."
"While I may never know what Maya Peterson endured, I do know that Lawrenceville tried to shape us to be the best people we could be," she wrote. "Students were constantly exposed to current events and controversial issues because The Lawrenceville School wanted us to realize that there are still many problems in the world."
Gallinek placed blame with the individual students who broke the school's honor code, including Peterson.
"While Maya Peterson should not have Instagrammed that photo because she was acting as a leader, the students quoted in the article should not have made such strong statements against her."
Even Smith, the 2007 alumnus who remembers instances of racism on the Lawrenceville campus, wanted to stress the kind nature of some faculty members.
Smith, who is gay, said that during his time there, staff went out of their way to make sure he felt comfortable.
One adviser for the Catholic Students Club added "that's so gay" to the swear jar to limit bullying.
"I felt so safe," Smith said. "I will never forget that as long as I live."
Even so, he stands with Peterson.
"Being comfortable enough to complain about another student by name in high school is the definition of privilege," he said. "I think that students of color at Lawrenceville stood so much more to lose when complaining about prejudice and discomfort than white students did."