Harvard College has revoked at least 10 admission offers to members of the class of 2021 overly sexually explicit memes and messages shared in a private Facebook group chat, according to The Harvard Crimson.
The students in the group exchanged memes and images “mocking sexual assault, the Holocaust and the deaths of children,” and some targeted specific ethnic or racial groups. One message “called the hypothetical hanging of a Mexican child ‘piñata time.’ ”
The college newspaper — which obtained screenshots of the chats — says that according to several members of the group, Harvard administrators revoked the admission offers in mid-April.
A spokesperson for Harvard told PEOPLE in an emailed statement that the college “does not comment publicly on the admissions status of individual applicants.”
However, Harvard does reserve the right to withdraw an offer of admission under certain conditions that are expressed to students when they’re accepted, according to the university. One of those conditions is if an admitted student engages or has engaged in behavior that brings into question their honesty, maturity or moral character.
The students involved in the incident first began to communicate in the official Harvard College Class of 2021 Facebook group. One of the members then posted about starting a chat group for people who liked memes.
According to two incoming freshman that spoke to the Harvard Crimson, the new group — which was formed in late December — at one point was called “Harvard memes of horny bourgeois teens.”
The messages in the original group were mostly “lighthearted,” Jessica Zhang, an incoming freshman wrote in an email to the newspaper. Some members then wrote that they should form “a more R-rated” meme chat, according to Cassandra Luca, another incoming freshman.
To join that smaller group, which included about 100 members, students first had to post provocative memes to get accepted.
Zhang told the newspaper that while she appreciates humor, there are many topics that should not be joked about.
“I respect the decision of the admissions officers to rescind the offers because those actions really spoke about the students’ true characters,” she said. “I do not know how those offensive images could be defended.”