Students Lose Their Admission to Harvard Thanks to Social Media

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Parents, educators, and even peers may warn students to be careful when it comes to the digital trail they're leaving behind on social media, yet sometimes that message doesn't really get through -- even for the brightest students. But perhaps this story will have a powerful impact. Harvard just rescinded its offers of admission to more than 10 students who shared sexually explicit and racially offensive memes in a Facebook group. 

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The Class of 2021 got a bit smaller after two incoming freshman reported that a Facebook messaging group, which at some point had the unfortunate title "Harvard memes for horny bourgeois teens," had been created by other admitted students in late December.

More from CafeMom: This Is Why I Won't Let My Daughter Use Social Media

So what content was shared among these teens, whom you'd imagine are among the best and brightest considering they attained Ivy League admission? 

According to the Harvard's student paper, the Harvard Crimson, messages -- intended to be humorous -- suggested that abusing children was "sexually arousing." We're failing to see how anyone could find that amusing. At all. That wasn't the only disturbing "joke" the platform contained. One meme went so far as to reference the idea of "hanging a Mexican child" as "piñata time," while others reportedly mocked the Holocaust.

Horrifying, right? It's no wonder the Cambridge, Massachusetts–based university didn't want to associate itself with these students, who located one another using the official Harvard College Class of 2021 Facebook group. From there, the would-be Ivy Leaguers started smaller groups based on similar interests, which is how the offensive meme site got its start. 

You can say: "What about these students' right to free speech? If it wasn't on the official page, what's the problem?' (Aside from it being offensive and ignorant, of course.) But Harvard's Admissions Office cautions students: "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."

More from CafeMom: 13 Apps That Make It Impossible for Teens to be Sneaky Online

If you're looking for students with stellar character and outstanding qualities, you'd need to look beyond that Facebook group, that's for sure! 

Also, as a parent or a student, you don't want to think that you're spending thousands and thousands of dollars to attend an elite school and your potential roommate or dorm mates are people who think sexual abuse and racism are funny, much less something to joke about on the Internet. We don't blame the school for weeding out potential problems before they arise. 

It's almost ironic that these students were smart enough to get into Harvard, which admits a mere 5.2 percent of applicants (2,056 out of 39,506 applicants), according to the school, yet weren't wise enough to recognize that their actions have consequences. 

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Many still believe that because the Internet is so vast or you can make things "disappear" on certain apps, they're untraceable. But everything on social media has legs and often your posts go far beyond the original, intended audience -- for better and for worse.

For parents, if your kids haven't gotten that message yet, this cautionary tale should drive that point home quickly. 

And for these students, scrambling to find a backup school will probably make this a lesson that will stick with them forever.

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