Rowers paddle down the Charles River near the campus of Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., on March 7. (Charles Krupa/AP)

There was a great deal of reaction to the news first published by the Harvard Crimson, the student newspaper of Harvard University, that the acceptances of at least 10 students chosen to be in the Class of 2021 were revoked after it was discovered that they had included sexually explicit memes and messages in a private Facebook group chat.

The story said in part:

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.”

Some people who read the reports that followed wondered whether the students were being unfairly punished, while others said the punishment was more than deserving. Here are some of the comments on The Washington Post story and then some tweets that reflect the range of reaction:

And these kids are supposedly the brighter bulbs amongst their contemporaries?
Well, they obviously aren’t smart enough to know that they should be discerning about what they post on social media.
Better to learn this lesson as early in life as possible. This kind of “fun” behavior was destined to produce blowback at some point in their lives.
And now they know that actions have consequences.


12:02 AM EST
This is probably happening everywhere, not just at Harvard. Who is asleep at the wheel in raising our generation of children? Off-color or offensive humor is anyone’s prerogative in private, but to have the audacity to do it in a college admit forum says to me Harvard was right to rescind admissions offers. Lack of maturity and moral character are probably just the tip of the iceberg for some of those kids.


This just proves that you don’t have to be smart to get into Harvard.
Eugene Daniell
At a certain point people who make posts like this are showing that they are simply not mature enough for college and are likely to cause problems once they get there. Sorry, but …
Would Harvard expel any currently enrolled students who privately tell such jokes, whether online or verbally?
That’s the real acid test for Harvard’s harsh standards for personal moral character in its students.
If not, this is humbug.