Harvard is perhaps best known for producing some of the most heinous war criminals and terrorists of the second half of the 20th century, from Henry Kissinger to the Unabomber. But there is one thing that Harvard won't stand for, and that's offensive memes.
(AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
The Harvard Crimson reports that at least 10 incoming students had their acceptance rescinded in recent months after it was revealed that the kids had posted racist and sexist memes to a private Facebook group called "Harvard memes for horny bourgeois teens".
According to the Crimson, whose reporters have seen the images but have not released them publicly, the students in the Facebook group posted shocking memes about the Holocaust, joked about the deaths of children, and included racist material, including one Facebook post that referred to the hypothetical hanging of a Mexican child as "pinata time".
Participation in the fringe meme group reportedly included a kind of online initiation ritual where people would have to post something offensive to the main Facebook group for the incoming class, "Harvard College Class of 2021". Members who did so were allowed to join the splinter group.
Students who participated in the private Facebook forum received an email from Harvard stating that their admissions status was under review and that they would be asked to explain themselves in order to be allowed to start classes at the school in the autumn semester.
"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," the email reportedly said.
As Mic reported back in April, virtually every Ivy League school has a thriving Facebook meme culture often hidden in private groups, but each has their own rules.
"People become well-known on campus as memelords," Lorenzo Bartolinia teenage founder of UChicago Memes for Theoretical Midwest Teens, told Mic. "It's just like any other way of becoming popular."
But, of course, there's no reason that becoming a memelord requires being a racist prick. However, this does seem to be a recurring problem for Harvard, where students in a private group from the class of 2020 got into similar trouble last year.
At least 10 students ultimately had their admission rescinded by Harvard this year, which admitted just 5.2 per cent of its applicants for the class of 2021. Gaining acceptance to the university is incredibly difficult, unless your parents are rich. In which case it seems $US2.5 million ($3.3 million) is roughly the price of admission.