According to The Crimson, group messages contained memes and other images mocking sexual assault, the Holocaust, and the deaths of children, according to screenshots of the chat obtained by the student newspaper of Harvard University.
One commenter called the hypothetical hanging of a Mexican child “piñata time,” according to The Crimson.
The chat, which at one point was reportedly called “Harvard memes for horny bourgeois teens” to share visual viral jokes grew out of a roughly 100-member messaging group that members of the Class of 2021, which was set up in early December.
Admitted students found and contacted each other using the official Harvard College Class of 2021 Facebook group.
Harvard spokeswoman Rachael Dane declined to comment, saying Harvard doesn’t discuss the admissions status of individual applicants. The university tells accepted students that their offers can be withdrawn if their behavior “brings into question their honesty, maturity or moral character,” among a variety of other reasons.
Messages shared in the original group were mostly “lighthearted,” accepted student Jessica Zhang told The Crimson. But some members soon suggested forming “a more R-rated” meme chat, according to another incoming student Cassandra Luca, who joined the first meme group but not the second.
In April, Harvard admissions officials sent letters to some members of the group asking them to explain their offensive posts, saying their admission was under review and that they shouldn’t attend Harvard’s freshmen visiting event in April, the Crimson reported.
About a week later, at least 10 were told their offers were withdrawn, according to The Crimson.
In the email sent to students by the Admissions Office’s obtained by The Crimson, the office said:
“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.”
“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.”
“It is unfortunate that I have to reach out about this situation.”
The student newspaper said it spoke on condition of anonymity to one of the students whose admission had been withdrawn. It also described correspondence that Harvard officials had sent to members of the group.
University officials have previously said that Harvard’s decision to rescind a student’s offer is final.