Harvard University has rescinded its acceptance of 10 freshmen after they discovered “obscene” memes posted by the group on a private Facebook page. The students reportedly made fun of child abuse, pedophilia, sexual assault, the Holocaust and minorities in the page, which was created after the students began an offshoot from a tamer page of freshmen students preparing for their first year at Harvard. It was initially seen as simply a more risque version of the page, but some began leaving the spinoff once more offensive memes began getting posted.
One meme that was discovered on the page was a picture of an Orthodox Jew with the caption, “Why don’t Jews eat p***y? Because it’s too close to the gas chamber.” Another piece of evidence was a picture of two children of seeming Middle Eastern descent holding firearms, with the caption, “When your dad is killed by a drone and you get to f**k his herd of goats”.
Wyatt Hurt, a member of the original page from which the offshoot sprung, said that, “Other students I’ve talked to, from Harvard and otherwise, all generally agree that it was the right action as well. Harvard is one of the schools that is shaping the leaders of the future. It’s absolutely a privilege to attend, and when those students posted such hateful material it became clear that they weren’t honoring that privilege.”
Some free speech advocates are troubled by the move, calling this punishment “draconian”. Professor of Harvard Law School Alan Dershowitz said that the university was “intruding too deeply” into the private lives of students with this move, potentially unjustly “affect[ing] them for life”. Erica Goldberg, former professor at Harvard Law School, wrote in response to the news: “Harvard should not teach its students to be afraid to joke in private among people willing to joke back.”