10 students are no longer welcome at Harvard after sharing offensive memes

Harvard University students walk through the campus.
Image: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

If you’re hoping to attend a university after graduating high school, you might wanna seriously think before you meme. Moreover, if you thought life within the ostensible privacy of secured Facebook pages has no bearing on the future of one’s educationlet alone one at the place Mark Zuckerberg created Facebookyou definitely want to take a step back from the keyboard.

Harvard recently rescinded the acceptances of at least 10 prospective students from the Class of 2021, for sharing controversial memes on social media, The Harvard Crimson reported.

According to the Harvard Crimson, the space for sharing the controversial memes was an offshoot of “Harvard Memes for Elitist 1% Tweens”a Facebook group that around100 members of the college’s incoming freshman class created to connect with one another through comical photos, memes, and posts related to the school.

While meme groups are not uncommon in today’s university cultureschools like UC Berkeley and UCLA also have groups devoted to the sharing of web culture related photosin late December a group of students reportedly created a controversial spinoff group that was at one point titled, “Harvard memes for horny bourgeois teens.”

Hannah Natanson, a writer at the Crimson, explained that “students sent each other memes and other images mocking sexual assault, the Holocaust, and the deaths of children,” in the group, according to screenshots that she obtained. “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 piata time,” she went on.

In mid-April, after discovering the existence of the group and its contents, Harvard administrators revoked admissions offers of at least ten students involved in the meme-sharing.

Cassandra Luca, an incoming Harvard freshman, told the student publication that soon after it was created, several members of “Harvard Memes for Elitist 1% Tweens” suggested “a more R-rated” meme group be formed. They reportedly demanded that students post provocative memes in the larger messaging group before they would be allowed in to the smaller offshoot. “They were like, ‘Oh, you have to send a meme to the original group to prove that you could get into the new one,'” Luca said. “This was a just-because-we-got-into-Harvard-doesnt-mean-we-cant-have-fun kind of thing.”

A student whose admission offer was rescinded anonymously told The Crimson that when the offensive posts were discovered back in April, employees from the Admissions Office contacted the posters via email, asking them to “disclose every picture they sent over the group.”

“Students sent each other memes and other images mocking sexual assault, the Holocaust, and the deaths of children.”

“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,” a copy of the email obtained by the publication reportedly reads. “As we understand you were among the members contributing such material to this chat, we are asking that you submit a statement by tomorrow at noon to explain your contributions and actions for discussion with the Admissions Committee.”

While it’s unclear whether or not the full description for the Class of 2021’s official Facebook group was added before or after the meme incident, the pageset up and maintained by the Admission and Financial Aid Officesincludes a clear disclosure to students.

A section of the group’s description currently reads, “We are not responsible for any unofficial groups, chats, or the content within. As a reminder, Harvard College reserves the right to withdraw an offer of admission under various conditions including if an admitted student engages in behavior that brings into question his or her honesty, maturity, or moral character.”

According to a 2015 article in The Crimson about a prospective student who was accused of sexual assault, when university officials rescind a students offer to attend the university, the decision is final.

As for the original Harvard 2021 meme group, members are aware of the potential consequences that can unfold when “memes get too real,” but nevertheless, continue meme-ing.

Be smart out there, teen meme lords.

Mashable reached out to Harvard College for additional comment.

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