Harvard revokes acceptances for at least ten students over offensive memes on Facebook

Harvard University recently revoked acceptance offers to at least ten prospective members of the Class of 2021 after the students posted “obscene memes” in a private Facebook group chat, The Harvard Crimson reported.

The memes included jokes about pedophilia, child abuse, sexual assault, and the Holocaust. One message referred to a Mexican youth being hanged as “piñata time”.

The chat "Harvard memes for horny bourgeois teens" 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. 

Although the official Facebook page for students admitted to join the Harvard Class of 2021 warns students that “Harvard College reserves the right to withdraw an offer of admission under various conditions including if an admitted student engages in behaviour that brings into question his or her honesty, maturity, or moral character,” several students started sending messages that contained offensive messages and graphics.

Upon discovery of the group, school administrators rescinded admission officers to at least ten incoming freshmen in April, the Crimson reported. The school's past decisions to revoke admission offers have been considered final.

The decision sparked controversy. On one hand, some people (including Harvard’s students and professors) believe the university may be intruding too deeply into the private lives of students. Others, strongly supported the Admissions Office’s decision arguing that the administrators’ actions were justified due to the nature of the offensive messages.

This is not the first time the university has to deal with a similar situation. Last year, a previous group chat for admitted Harvard students sparked a public disapproval after the chat included racist jokes. But administrators chose not to discipline members of the Class of 2020 who authored the messages.