Harvard U. Widener_Library
Harvard U. Widener_Library

Harvard College says it has rescinded letters to at least 10 applicants accepted to its freshman class of 2021 after students traded sexually explicit and racist memes in a private group chat.

According to the student newspaper, The Harvard Crimson, students connected through a Harvard College Class of 2021 Facebook group.

Some of the students formed chat groups with others who shared similar interests, according to an incoming student. The offensive material was posted in a subgroup for dark memes.

Those memes included images mocking sexual assault, the Holocaust, and the deaths of children.

In mid-April, university officials notified at least 10 students, who participated in the group, that their acceptances had been revoked.

University policy allows for admission offers to be rescinded for reasons of conduct that brings honesty, maturity or moral character into question.

Some students expressed mixed feelings over the administration actions.

“I don’t think the school should have gone in and rescinded some offers because it wasn’t Harvard-affiliated,” Cassandra Luca, a member of the incoming freshman class, told the Crimson. “It was people doing stupid stuff.”

Others from the incoming Class of 2021 said they supported the administration’s decision, calling the students’ actions indefensible.

This is the second year that school officials have dealt with students exchanging offensive messages online. Last year, students from the Class of 2020 shared racist and sexist jokes in an unofficial Group Me chat, prompting school officials to release a statement condemning the remarks.

Harvard is one of the country’s most competitive schools accepting just 2,056 (5.2 percent) of the nearly 40,000 students that applied for the Class of 2021.

The issue was trending on social media with many commenting supported and rejected Harvard’s action.

“If you're legally too immature to be allowed to buy a beer, then perhaps you should be allowed a second chance,” said Jean-Michel Sotiron (@sotiron) of Montreal, Quebec.

“Generally I agree, but maybe not when it comes to a coveted spot at a place there are literally thousands of other qualified candidates for,” replied Emmett Macfarlane (@EmmMacfarlane), professor of political science at the University of Waterloo in Ontario.

“Harvard taught them one important life lesson,” tweeted Steve Daly (@SteveDaly15), who writes a blog on Canadian defense and security. “Consequences.”