10 Incoming Freshman Lose Their Acceptance to Harvard For Engaging in Offensive College 'Meme Wars'

Image via AP.
Image via AP.

Incoming freshman were directed to find each other on Harvard’s Class of 2021 Facebook group, and in late December about a 100 of them broke off into a meme-sharing messaging chat titled “Harvard memes for horny bourgeois teens.” Can you guess where this is going?

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The Harvard Crimson reports that of that 100, 10 proved themselves to be smart enough to get into Harvard, but not smart enough to know everything you put on the Internet gets found eventually. A splinter group for “offensive memes” was formed from the messaging group, but in order to be accepted, you needed to share something incendiary in the main thread:

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. Some of the messages joked that abusing children was sexually arousing, while others had punchlines directed at specific ethnic or racial groups. One called the hypothetical hanging of a Mexican child “piñata time.”

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Administrators were notified of the group, and contacted the students involved in mid-April, asking in an email for them to disclose all the memes they’d shared that could be construed as offensive and to “submit a statement by tomorrow at noon to explain your contributions and actions for discussion with the Admissions Committee.” The ten incoming freshman who had their admissions revoked were notified shortly after.

This is the second year in a row that incoming Harvard students connected through group chats were exposed for sharing questionable material; incoming students for the Class of 2020 shared racist jokes and mocked feminists in a GroupMe chat. At the time, administrators chose not to take action against the offenders because they were “not matriculated students at this point,” though they did condemn the language used in a Facebook post. It seems they have come to the conclusion that squashing some dreams will stop all the memes.

Contributing Writer, writing my first book for the Dial Press called The Lonely Hunter, follow me on Twitter @alutkin

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DISCUSSION

This is the type of thing that gets right-wing news outlets all riled up about “intolerant liberals.” I’m certain they will bankroll lawsuits to attempt to ensure the right to express truly horrible sentiments without any repercussions.

This is not a freedom of speech issue. Harvard is not the government, nor is it a state-run school. They are not saying the prospective students do not have the right to post whatever memes they find amusing, just that their postings are inconsistent with Harvard community values. BYU might similarly expel or deny admission to those they feel do not behave in line with their values.