Leadership

Offensive Facebook memes just cost 10 students their spots at Harvard

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Brooks Kraft | Getty Images

This piece of advice isn't going anywhere: Be careful what you share on social media.

At least 10 prospective members of Harvard University's Class of 2021 learned this lesson the hard way. The students had their admissions offers rescinded due to offensive posts and memes sent on Facebook, according to The Harvard Crimson.

The messages shared by the students in a private Facebook group chat were sexually explicit and targeted minority groups, the publication reported.

Per the student newspaper:

In the group, students sent each other memes and other images mocking sexual assault, the Holocaust and the deaths of children, according to screenshots of the chat obtained by The Crimson. 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 "piñata time."

Upon learning of the posts, Harvard's administration revoked the students' admissions offers. The decisions are final, the publication says.

The conversations stemmed from the Harvard College Class of 2021 Facebook group. Some members suggested starting an "R-rated" meme chat, says Cassandra Luca, a member of the incoming class, in an interview with The Crimson.

"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 says. "This was a just-because-we-got-into-Harvard-doesn't-mean-we-can't-have-fun kind of thing."

Once the university's admissions office became aware of the memes and images shared, they asked students involved to email pictures sent in the group chat for review.

"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," according to an email obtained by The Crimson sent to students involved.

Just 5.2 percent of applicants were accepted to the Class of 2021, or 2,056 applications out of about 40,000 total, The Crimson reported.

As one person posted on Twitter about the incident, "Don't let memes kill your dreams."

See also: Why one high school senior turned down 7 Ivy League schools