Harvard has rescinded acceptances for at least ten prospective students after learning that they were involved in a private Facebook group chat that shared racist and sexually explicit memes.
According to the Harvard Crimson, the group chat in question was an offshoot of the main Harvard Class of 2021 Facebook group, and was at one point named “Harvard Memes for Horny Bourgeois Teens.” The chat was started this past December.
Cassandra Luca, an incoming freshman who did not take part in the more R-rated meme chat (the controversial group grew out of a more lighthearted meme group), told The Crimson that the founders of the “dark” group encouraged students to post provocative memes in order to gain entry into the smaller, more exclusive group.
“They were like, ‘Oh, you have to send a meme to the original group to prove that you could get into the new one,'” Luca told the campus paper. “This was a just-because-we-got-into-Harvard-doesn’t-mean-we-can’t-have-fun kind of thing.”
Memes included messages that joked about finding child abuse sexually arousing and that mocked the Holocaust. One screenshot obtained by The Crimson showed the hypothetical hanging of a Mexican child with the caption, “piñata time.”
The admissions office, upon catching wind of the troubling Facebook group chat, emailed students who had posted offensive memes in April, asking them to disclose and explain every picture they had posted in the group. “The Admissions Committee was disappointed to learn that several students in a private group chat for the Class of 2021 were sending messages that contained offensive messages and graphics,” an email from the admission’s office, obtained by The Crimson, read. “As we understand you were among the members contributing such material to this chat, we are asking that you submit a statement by tomorrow at noon to explain your contributions and actions for discussion with the Admissions Committee.”
A college spokesperson told The Crimson, “We do not comment publicly on the admissions status of individual applicants.”
Students are still torn over whether the top Ivy League university’s decision to rescind admissions offers was a fair punishment, though most seemed to feel that the administration did the right thing.
“I appreciate humor, but there are so many topics that just should not be joked about,” Jessica Zhang, another incoming freshman, told The Crimson. “I respect the decision of the admissions officers to rescind the offers because those actions really spoke about the students’ true characters. I do not know how those offensive images could be defended.”