Dematriculating the deplorablesThe Harvard Crimson reports :
"Harvard College rescinded admissions offers to at least ten prospective members of the Class of 2021 after the students traded sexually explicit memes and messages that sometimes targeted minority groups in a private Facebook group chat.
A handful of admitted students formed the messaging group—titled, at one point, “Harvard memes for horny bourgeois teens”—on Facebook in late December, according to two incoming freshmen.
In the group, students sent each other memes and other images mocking sexual assault, the Holocaust, and the deaths of children, according to screenshots of the chat obtained by The Crimson. Some of the messages joked that abusing children was sexually arousing, while others had punchlines directed at specific ethnic or racial groups. One called the hypothetical hanging of a Mexican child “piñata time.”
After discovering the existence and contents of the chat, Harvard administrators revoked admissions offers to at least ten participants in mid-April, according to several members of the group. University officials have previously said that Harvard’s decision to rescind a student’s offer is final.
College spokesperson Rachael Dane wrote in an emailed statement Saturday that “we do not comment publicly on the admissions status of individual applicants.”
The chat grew out of a roughly 100-member messaging group that members of the Class of 2021 set up in early December to share memes about popular culture. Admitted students found and contacted each other using the official Harvard College Class of 2021 Facebook group.
“A lot of students were excited about forming group chats with people who shared similar interests,” Jessica Zhang ’21, an incoming freshman who joined both chats, wrote in an email. “Someone posted about starting a chat for people who liked memes.”
Messages shared in the original group were mostly “lighthearted,” wrote Zhang, who said she did not post in the splitoff meme group and that her admission offer was not rescinded. But some members soon suggested forming “a more R-rated” meme chat, according to Cassandra Luca ’21, who joined the first meme group but not the second, and who also said her offer was not revoked.
Luca said the founders of the “dark” group chat demanded that students post provocative memes in the larger messaging group before allowing them to join the splinter 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,” reads a copy of the Admissions Office’s email obtained by The Crimson. “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.”
“It is unfortunate that I have to reach out about this situation,” the email reads.
The anonymous student also said that administrators informed implicated students that their admissions status was under review and instructed them not to come to Visitas, Harvard’s annual weekend of programming for prospective freshmen held at the end of April...
“On the one hand, I think people can post whatever they want because they have the right to do that,” Luca said. “I don’t think the school should have gone in and rescinded some offers because it wasn’t Harvard-affiliated, it was people doing stupid stuff.”...
“I appreciate humor, but there are so many topics that just should not be joked about,”
This incident marks the second time in two years that Harvard has dealt with a situation where incoming freshmen exchanged offensive messages online. Last spring, some admitted members of the Class of 2020 traded jokes about race and mocked feminists in an unofficial class GroupMe chat, prompting Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana and Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid William R. Fitzsimmons ’67 to issue a joint statement condemning the students’ actions...
But administrators chose not to discipline members of the Class of 2020 who authored the messages...
—Staff writer Hannah Natanson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @hannah_natanson.