Harvard withdraws admission offers over offensive Facebook messages

Ivy League institution revoked offers to 10 students after learning they had mocked sexual assault and made racist comments 

June 14, 2017
Harvard Yard

Harvard University has rescinded admission offers to 10 students after learning that they had shared offensive messages on a private Facebook messaging group.

According to student newspaper The Harvard Crimson, which obtained screenshots of the messages, the students sent each other memes and other images mocking sexual assault, the Holocaust and the deaths of children.

It added that some of the messages joked that abusing children was sexually arousing, while others included racist comments.

According to several members of the group, Harvard administrators revoked admissions offers to at least 10 participants after learning about the messages. However, the university declined to confirm whether this was the case, stating: “We do not comment publicly on the admissions status of individual applicants.”

A handful of students who had been admitted to Harvard formed the private messaging group, which at one point was titled “Harvard memes for horny bourgeois teens”, in December, according to the student paper.

Admitted students found and contacted each other using the official Harvard College Class of 2021 Facebook group, set up and maintained by the university’s admissions office. It had warned members that admissions offers can be withdrawn under various conditions, “including if an admitted student engages in behaviour that brings into question his or her honesty, maturity, or moral character”.   

ellie.bothwell@timeshighereducation.com

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