“This was a just-because-we-got-into-Harvard-doesn’t-mean-we-can’t-have-fun kind of thing.”Employees in the Admissions Office emailed students who posted offensive memes in mid-April asking them to disclose every picture they sent over the group, according to one member of the chat whose admission offer was revoked.
The student spoke only on the condition of anonymity because they did not want to be publicly identified with the messages.“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.
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.
Roughly a week later, at least ten members of the group chat received letters informing them that their offers of admission had been withdrawn.
The description for the official Facebook group for the Class of 2021, set up and maintained by the Admissions Office, disclaims all administrative responsibility for “unofficial groups” and warns members their admissions offers can be rescinded under specific circumstances.“As a reminder, Harvard College reserves the right to withdraw an offer of admission under various conditions including if an admitted student engages in behavior that brings into question his or her honesty, maturity, or moral character,” the description reads.
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.
“I don’t think the school should have gone in and rescinded some offers because it wasn’t Harvard-affiliated, it was people doing stupid stuff.”She added, though, that if memes sent over the chat posed any kind of threat to members’ lives or well-being, then she believed administrators’ actions were justified.
Other members of the Class of 2021 said they strongly supported the Admissions Office’s decision.
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Last spring, some admitted members of the Class of 2020 traded jokes about race and mocked feminists in an unofficial class Group Me chat, prompting Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana and Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid William R.