What started as a private Facebook group for sharing funny memes resulted in at least 10 incoming Harvard University freshmen losing their admission acceptance offers.
The school revoked their admission in mid-April after discovering the students shared sexually explicit, racist, and offensive memes, as well as messages in a group chat called “Harvard memes for horny bourgeois teens,” the Harvard Crimson first reported.
After joining the university’s official “Harvard College Class of 2021” Facebook group, about 100 students formed an offshoot messaging group that became a space to share jokes and images mocking sexual assault, the Holocaust, and the deaths of children, often targeting ethnic or racial groups, the Crimson reported.
An incoming Harvard freshman who asked to remain anonymous told BuzzFeed News that he started the “bourgeois teens” group that ultimately led to the private, more “wild” meme messaging thread, called “General Fuckups.” He said he has since left the group, and that while he was not in the thread that led to his former future classmates losing their acceptance letters, students posted offensive images in his group to gain entry to the more secluded one.
“For the first like four months it was great. Just wholesome memes and discussions about life,” he said. “Just like an open forum for people to chat.”
“They had to post one offensive meme in the normal chat so that way the other members of the dark chat had evidence to report each other if it did all crumble (which it did). Anything that was ‘wild,’ as they called it. So it ranged from memes that made fun of the Holocaust to people with disabilities. General stuff you’d find on 4chan honestly,” the incoming freshman said.
As more students received acceptance letters at the end of March, the chat group swelled before splintering off into the separate chat in early April, he said.
Shortly after, university officials found out about the group and its contents. Harvard administrators emailed students in mid-April who posted offensive material demanding they show everything they had posted in the group.
The university’s decision to pull student admission offers over what they shared in a private messaging group has divided some students as colleges across the country struggle with how to protect free speech that is deemed offensive or inflammatory.