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Students Lose Acceptance to Harvard Over Racist Memes

At least 10 incoming freshmen have had their admission revoked for sharing offensive content in an exclusive Facebook chat.

by Sarah Jeong
Jun 5 2017, 10:39am

Image: Shutterstock

A big envelope arrives in the mail: it's a college admissions packet! You're going to college! You do a little dance. You tell your parents. You all cry. And then you join the Facebook group for the class of 2021.

If you graduated high school this year, you may have gone through this very same process alongside hundreds of thousands of other incoming college freshmen. And if you're one of a very tiny, select minority, you got accepted to Harvard. Congratulations! Unless you're one of the ten (or more) students who just got their acceptance rescinded for posting offensive memes on Facebook.

According to the Harvard Crimson, the official college newspaper, about a hundred students from the official Harvard College Class of '21 Facebook group joined a private group chat for only posting memes. From there, an even smaller splinter group was formed for more "R-rated" memes, which I guess is what the kids these days call super racist content. In order to get into the "R-rated" group—which was at one point titled "Harvard memes for horny bourgeois teens"—students had to post something edgy enough inside the regular meme chat.

The Crimson reports that the memes in the splinter group made fun of "sexual assault, the Holocaust, and the deaths of children." One joked about lynching a Mexican child, calling it "pinata time."

It's not entirely clear how Harvard administrators caught wind of "Harvard memes for horny bourgeois teens," but in mid-April, group participants received an email from the Admissions Office. The Crimson obtained a copy of the email, which reads, "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. 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."

According to the Crimson, at least ten students have had their acceptance to Harvard rescinded as a result. The university has declined to comment on the "the admissions status of individual applicants."

It's not the first time Harvard has dealt with bad-meme-posters in an incoming class of freshmen (just last year, administrators officially admonished students in the Class of 2020 via Facebook), but this might be the first time anyone's had their acceptance revoked over memes. The Crimson doesn't name any names, probably because no one wants to be known as the kid who almost went to Harvard except they edgelorded too hard.

Does posting incredibly offensive content under your real name mean that you're not smart enough to go to Harvard? Is there some kind of special irony in the supposition that this would have never happened if Harvard dropout (and this year's commencement speaker) Mark Zuckerberg hadn't created Facebook? And now that Harvard is policing memes, is the withdrawal of admission on the basis of shitposting going to become a national trend? I'd rather not consider the answers to these questions, but unfortunately, time will probably tell.