Harvard’s apparent decision to rescind admission from Parkland shooting survivor Kyle Kashuv over racist things he wrote almost two years ago is not out of character for the Ivy league university.
Harvard has previously taken back admission from prospective students over racist memes, plagiarism – and even murder. Those cases are newly relevant in the wake of Kashuv’s news, which he laid out Monday in a Twitter thread.
Kashuv, a prominent gun rights advocate who has met with President Donald Trump at the White House, acknowledged that he and classmates made “abhorrent racial slurs” in digital messages, before the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Harvard told Kashuv in a May letter that it “reserves the right to withdraw an offer of admission under various conditions, including ‘if you engage or have engaged in behavior that brings into question your honesty, maturity, or moral character.’”
In response, Kashuv apologized, said he was “mortified and embarrassed” by the comments and wrote that he had matured since he wrote them.
Still, Harvard this month withdrew his admission, Kashuv said. Harvard does “not comment publicly on the admissions status of individual applicants,” a university spokeswoman told CNN.
The decision has sparked a fierce debate, largely along partisan lines, as to whether Harvard made an appropriate choice.
Though Harvard does not comment on such cases publicly, there is high-profile precedent for its move.
Racism, plagiarism and crime
The institution withdrew acceptance offers two years ago from at least 10 incoming freshmen after administrators discovered the students were sharing explicit memes via a Facebook chat group that at one point was called “Harvard memes for horny bourgeois teens,” The Harvard Crimson student newspaper reported.
Group members joked about subjects including sexual assault, the Holocaust, deaths of children, and certain ethnic or racial groups, according to the Crimson.
Harvard in 2003 rescinded admission from a prospective student named Blair Hornstine over plagiarized material in articles she wrote for her local paper, The Crimson reported.
Hornstine, who received special accommodations for a disability, had made national news when she sued her school system to ensure she would be the only valedictorian of her high school.
Perhaps the most infamous rescinded admission came in the case of Gina Grant. She was a straight-A student, and in her Harvard application, she portrayed herself as an orphan who had overcome the odds to gain admission to Harvard, The New York Times wrote in 1995.
However, Harvard rescinded her admission after learning that Grant had pleaded no contest to manslaughter in the bludgeoning death of her mother and spent six months in a juvenile facility. Those facts were not included on her application, the Times wrote.
Similarly, Harvard’s graduate program rescinded admission in 2017 from a woman who had served time in prison for murder.
Michelle Jones became an acclaimed scholar of American history while behind bars and was accepted to Harvard’s graduate program in the subject, The New York Times and the Marshall Project reported. But that acceptance was withdrawn by top officials after professors expressed concerns about her criminal past.