A student who became a well-known conservative activist after the mass shooting at his Florida high school says Harvard University rescinded its offer of admission because of racist comments he made when he was 16.
Kyle Kashuv, who survived the attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., quickly became known as an advocate for school security. While many of his classmates marched for gun control, he presented a more politically conservative response to the attack. Kashuv met with President Trump and senators in the weeks after the February 2018 shooting, in which 17 people were killed.
Kashuv wrote on social media Monday morning that nearly two years ago, when he was 16, he and some classmates used “abhorrent racial slurs” in an effort to be shocking and extremist, and that images of those private conversations had recently resurfaced. He wrote a public apology, but said former peers and political opponents contacted Harvard and urged the university to rescind its offer of admission. Kashuv then described the questions and the responses he gave to school officials, and wrote that he was told this month Harvard rescinded its offer.
He had turned down scholarship offers from other schools, he wrote, and the deadline for accepting other offers has passed.
In a direct message Monday, he said Harvard had been his first choice. “To be honest, the past weeks have been pretty bad,” he wrote.
Rachael Dane, a spokeswoman for Harvard, said the school does not comment publicly on the admission status of individual applicants.
Harvard reserves the right to rescind offers under certain circumstances, such as if students fail to graduate from high school, misrepresented information on their applications or engaged in behavior that raises questions about their moral character.
In 2017, at least 10 prospective students had their admissions offers rescinded, and the Harvard Crimson reported that those students had traded explicit and racially offensive messages in a private Facebook group.
That decision sparked criticism from some that Harvard was censoring speech and being too politically correct and praise from others who maintained admission to the elite school is a privilege that can and should be revoked if it appears not to be deserved.
Kashuv’s announcement prompted similar debates on social media.
Asked if he thought his political views had any bearing on Harvard’s decision, Kashuv responded, “Many people have speculated that.”
He gave his account in tweets:
Then Kashuv wrote on Twitter, “Harvard deciding that someone can’t grow, especially after a life-altering event like the shooting, is deeply concerning. If any institution should understand growth, it’s Harvard, which is looked to as the pinnacle of higher education despite its checkered past.
"Throughout its history, Harvard’s faculty has included slave owners, segregationists, bigots and antisemites. If Harvard is suggesting that growth isn’t possible and that our past defines our future, then Harvard is an inherently racist institution. But I don’t believe that.
"I believe that institutions and people can grow. I’ve said that repeatedly. In the end, this isn’t about me, it’s about whether we live in a society in which forgiveness is possible or mistakes brand you as irredeemable, as Harvard has decided for me.
“So what now?” he wrote. “I’m figuring it out. I had given up huge scholarships in order to go to Harvard, and the deadline for accepting other college offers has ended. I’m exploring all options at the moment.”