Harvard has revoked admissions offers for at least ten incoming freshman students after school officials discovered that they were posting racist and offensive memes in a private Facebook message, the Harvard Crimson and Washington Post report.
A group of around 100 students, who first contacted each other through Harvard's official Class of 2021 Facebook group, formed a private message to share memes about popular culture. But a smaller group formed a new group for the purpose of posting "more R-rated” memes, a student who was part of the initial group told Harvard Crimson.
The members of the offshoot Facebook group posted memes “mocking sexual assault, the Holocaust and the deaths of children,” while other posts targeted specific racial and ethnic groups. According to Harvard Crimson, one post in the chat “called the hypothetical hanging of a Mexican child ‘piñata time’.”
Harvard officials discovered the group in mid-April and issued letters to at least ten students, informing them that their admission to the university had been revoked. “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 Harvard 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.”
The incident is the second time that incoming Harvard students have shared offensive content with each other online. A group of admitted freshman "traded jokes about race and mocked feminists" in a GroupMe chat in Spring 2016. None of the students were disciplined at the time.
For their 2021 class, Harvard accepted 2,056 of the almost 40,000 total applicants. Nearly 84 percent of students granted admission to the university accepted the offer.