Prospective members of Harvard University’s Class of 2021 had their admissions offers rescinded after they shared offensive content on social media.
According to screenshots obtained by The Harvard Crimson, messages shared by the individuals in a private Facebook group chat mocked sexual assault, the Holocaust, and the deaths of children. This group chat originally stemmed from the Harvard College Class of 2021 Facebook group as prospective students formed their own conversations with those who shared similar interests.
When the university’s admissions office became aware of the memes and images shared, they asked students involved to email pictures sent in the group chat for review. Then, Harvard’s administration revoked the students’ admissions offers.
“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,” according to an email obtained by The Crimson sent to students involved.
Apparently, the decisions are final.
I agree that the content these individuals shared was gross and offensive, but does that mean that they deserve to have their admissions revoked?
I think it’s important to note that these were teenagers who often don’t make the best decisions. Couldn’t the admissions use this as a teaching moment instead of completely revoking their admissions? After all, these were private conversations. It’s not like these students were speaking on behalf of the university by blasting these memes all over the Internet.
Harvard is a private institution and, ultimately, they can do what they want.
I just wonder if Harvard’s decision sets a negative precedent. Should faculty, current students, and anyone somehow associated with the institution start monitoring absolutely everything they say in private conversations? What does that say about Harvard’s respect for the First Amendment?
Essentially, what should be considered a ‘private’ or ‘public’ conversation? I’d like to know.