Yesterday, we wrote about how Harvard University chose to rescind the admission of a survivor of the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. We explained how, contrary to the beliefs of some skeptics, Harvard did not rescind his admission because of his outspoken conservative stance on gun rights. In fact, Harvard’s admissions office appreciated his political activism and admissions officers were fully aware of his conservative viewpoints when they offered him admission. His views were in plain sight. Heck, he wrote about his pro-gun stance in his Personal Statement: “While I support a conservative viewpoint on the Second Amendment, I know that finding common ground is the path to protecting our students. I still believe that from the pits of despair, goodness can and will prevail.” No, this student’s admission was rescinded not because of his conservative views but because he was caught using hate speech, specifically writing racist and anti-Semitic comments.
Once the Student’s Reprehensible Comments Were Made Public, the Student Condemned His Words
As we have mentioned, Harvard has previously set precedent for rescinding the offers of admission issued to students who are caught using racist, homophobic, or otherwise morally unacceptable language. And, make no mistake, we believe the words of this survivor of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School were absolutely morally reprehensible. But after Harvard’s admissions office contacted him about his comments to seek a response, the young man didn’t defend his comments. He didn’t justify them (after all, there is no justification for racism!).
As Patricia Mazzei reports for The New York Times in a piece entitled “Racist Comments Cost Conservative Parkland Student a Place at Harvard,” the student wrote to Harvard, “My intent was never to hurt anyone. I also feel I am no longer the same person, especially in the aftermath of the Parkland shooting and all that has transpired since.” The student also wrote a letter to Harvard’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion, profusely apologizing for his abhorrent words. The office wrote him back and expressed a willingness to start a dialogue with him once he began his Harvard education, which of course will not come to pass since Harvard’s Office of Admissions revoked his acceptance.
After Seeking the Student’s Response, Harvard Revoked His Admission Anyway
All of this has led many folks to ask if Harvard, which itself has a history of racism and anti-Semitism, has no room for forgiveness. We happen to believe that Harvard is justified in revoking the admission of this young man. This young man chose to use this language of his own free will — even two years ago — and his political activism shined a bright spotlight on his words. But why did Harvard reach out to him after learning of his past comments, to ask for explanation? After Harvard’s admissions office sent him a letter to address these comments, it seems the young man did everything right in accepting responsibility and not excusing his abhorrent behavior. So was Harvard really considering not revoking his admission? It seems not — it seems the school was intent on rescinding his admission irrespective of his response, that the school had no room for forgiveness. And if that were the case, why didn’t Harvard’s admissions office just rescind his admission outright upon first hearing of his words? Why put him through an exercise in futility?
Should Harvard have rescinded this student’s admission upon first learning of his reprehensible words? Should Harvard have more room for forgiveness? Let us know your thoughts by posting a Comment below. We look forward to hearing from you. And, while you’re here, check out our full comments on this student’s rescinded admission offered to The Jewish Telegraphic Agency.