If you haven’t heard yet, Harvard University has rescinded their acceptance offers to at least ten prospective students who exchanged offensive memes and messages on Facebook. The misconduct took place on a private Facebook group chat that was geared towards the Class of 2021. The group was at one point called, “Harvard memes for horny bourgeois teens.”
In the group, students swapped memes and other images that mocked sexual assault, the Holocaust, and dead children. Harvard’s campus newspaper, The Crimson, reports that some of the messages joked that child abuse was sexually arousing. Other “jokes” targeted certain racial groups. One message in particular jested that the hanging of a Mexican child would be called “piñata time.”
The news elicited mixed signal from the public, with some backing the school’s decision and others claiming that the students have a right to free speech. My personal opinion on the matter is that Harvard made the right decision. Sexual assault, racism, the Holocaust, and dead children are no joking matter.
And to those who say that the students have a right to free speech, I ask you this: what about the rights of students of color, of students of Jewish descent, or students who are victims of sexual assault? They have the right to study in a safe learning environment without fear of harassment or physical harm.
By rescinding the offers of these prospective students, Harvard is sending a strong message that the school has a zero tolerance policy towards hate speech. That’s a step in the right direction towards equality if you ask me.
Not only that, but this story reinforces an old piece of advice: be careful what you post on social media. Colleges are learning centers, and Harvard administrators certainly did their job by teaching these students a lesson they will never forget.