Harvard College rescinded admissions offers to at least ten anointed members of the Class of 2021 after it discovered that the prospective students traded sexually explicit memes and messages in a private Facebook group chat. Some of the memes apparently mocked and denigrated minority groups.
The admitted students had formed the messaging group, “Harvard memes for horny bourgeois teens,”on Facebook in late December, 2016.
The members of the group sent each other memes and other images mocking sexual assault, the Holocaust, and the deaths of children, among other topis. Screenshots captured and obtained by the Harvard Crimson, the student newspaper, revealed that some messages joked that abusing children was sexually arousing, while others had punchlines targeting ethnic or racial groups, like one that called hanging a Mexican child “piñata time.”
Harvard administrators were alerted to the existence and contents of the chat and sent the students an e-mail that read,
“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 As we understand you were among the members contributing such material to this chat, we are asking that you submit a statement by tomorrow at noon to explain your contributions and actions for discussion with the Admissions Committee. It is unfortunate that I have to reach out about this situation.”
A week later, at least ten members of the meme chat group were sent letters from Harvard announcing that their admission offers were no longer valid, and that the decision was final.
“As a reminder, Harvard College reserves the right to withdraw an offer of admission under various conditions including if an admitted student engages in behavior that brings into question his or her honesty, maturity, or moral character.”
Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz Of The Day…
Was Harvard’s action fair, reasonable and proportionate?
The ethics problem with affirmative action is that its utilitarian trade-off is undeniably unfair and hypocritical. In order to admit African-American students whose test scores and grades would not normally allow them to be admitted to elite institutions, racial preference is used to justify not admitting white students whose credentials would otherwise qualify them for entry. Diversity justifies racial discrimination.
Asian-Americans have long been an embarrassment to this theory. Even though it is another minority group that was the target of institutional and social prejudice in this country, and despite added disadvantages of language and culture, Asian Americans as a group have better test scores and grades than the supposedly privileged whites. Not only does this fact call into question some assumed explanations for the consistently lagging performance of African-Americans, it also threatens diversity policies by raising the possibility of a student body disproportionately Asian American, with whites students being squeezed out at one end by superior Asian-Americans and on the other by Affirmative Action-assisted blacks.
How have universities avoided this problem thus far? They have avoided it by applying quotas to both Asian-Americans and African-Americans. The problem is that the quotas on Asian Americans limit their numbers, regardless of their qualifications. Continue reading
See that young black man in the photo above, gracing the cover of the University of Wisconsin admissions brochure? The one apparently cheering for the Badgers at a Wisconsin football game? His name is Diallo Shabazz, and as a student at the school in 2000 had never been to a game in his life when someone photoshopped his head into a crowd shot to let potential applicants know how diverse the University of Wisconsin was. This infamous incident, which Jon Stewart had a ball with in the day (is the Daily Show really that old?), is apparently more the norm that we thought at the time.
Tim Pippert is a sociologist at Augsburg College in Minnesota. He and his researchers looked at more than 10,000 images from college brochures to compare the racial composition of students in the pictures to the colleges’ actual demographics. They discovered that diversity, as depicted in the brochures, was over-represented. “When we looked at African-Americans in those schools that were predominantly white, the actual percentage in those campuses was only about 5 percent of the student body,” Pippert told NPR. “They were photographed at 14.5 percent.” Continue reading
The General is not pleased.
Shame on George Washington University (in Washington, D.C.), not only for lying to its students and community, but also for dishonoring the name of the scrupulously ethical American icon which they presumed to expropriate as their own. Such things carry with it some crucial obligations.
For years, the GW admissions and financial aid offices have claimed in printed materials and on the University website that admissions were independent of need. The admissions process does not consider financial need during the first round of screening applications. Before applicants are notified, however the University examines its financial aid budget and decides which students it can actually afford to admit. Wealthier students are accepted, taking the spots of students who would need more financial aid from the University.
Last week, a GW administrator confessed to a student newspaper—one ironically called “The Hatchet” after the apocryphal axe little George used to cop down that cherry tree in Parson Weems’ fable—– that financial resources indeed were considered in the admissions process, and have always been considered despite University statements to the contrary. As recently as last weekend, admissions representatives told prospective students that their applications would be judged without consideration of their financial aid profiles. Until it was removed Saturday evening, the newspaper reports, the undergraduate admissions website read, “Requests for financial aid do not affect admissions decisions.”
That site now confirms a “need-aware” policy that has always been in place. George Washington University just had another policy of lying about it. Continue reading