Harvard Rescinds Admission Of Incoming Students For Posting ‘Offensive’ Memes In Facebook Chat Group
Harvard University, the country's most prestigious academic institution, has rescinded admission offers to at least 10 incoming students after administrators discovered that the students had made “offensive” posts in a Facebook chat group.
“The potential students began sharing posts in a private chat group that splintered off from a larger one of about 100 students who contacted each other through the school's official Class of 2021 Facebook page that was meant for new students to meet each other…” reports NBC News, citing the Harvard Crimson. “The online group was originally meant to share memes on popular culture, and started off as ‘lighthearted’ but then a few members began getting inappropriate, an incoming student who was a part of the larger group told the Harvard Crimson.”
The sub-group posted obscenities, jokes, and facetious comments about everything from the death of children to sexual assault to the Holocaust, drawing the attention of university administrators.
NBC News explains:
The “dark” group called themselves "Harvard memes for horny bourgeois teens" at one point and mocked "sexual assault, the Holocaust, and the deaths of children," according to screenshots obtained by The Crimson.
"Some of the messages joked that abusing children was sexually arousing, while others had punchlines directed at specific ethnic or racial groups," according to the paper.
When Harvard got wind of the group, school officials pulled the acceptance offers of about 10 incoming students who were a part of the online chat group.
The Crimson reported that the school's investigation into the matter involved university officials asking members of the group to send them every meme they posted.
In an email sent to the students involved, Harvard’s Admission’s Office said that “[t]he 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.”
Harvard University is a private academic institution; and as a result the Admission’s Committee is not prohibited from rescinding admission to students based on behavior or speech considered to be in violation of the student code of conduct.
“These students have absolutely no free speech rights that were violated in this context," Columbia University Law School Professor Katherine Franke tells NBC News. "The First Amendment's Free Speech protections apply only to violations by public entities, and since Harvard is a private university the First Amendment does not apply. These students have no right or entitlement to admission to Harvard, and as such it is Harvard's prerogative to decide that it will not welcome into its community these individuals who have demonstrated a willingness to violate Harvard's code of ethics and policies against hate speech.”
Nevertheless, “hate speech” policies have become politically polarizing and contentious in recent years. At both public and private colleges, conservatives have accused overzealous university administrators of weaponizing “hate speech” policies and rules in an effort to suppress ideas that may clash with the Left’s hyper-politically correct worldview.