Rescinded for the right reasons

Harvard University’s decision to rescind Kyle Kashuv, a Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting survivor, shouldn’t have come as a surprise. 

Kashuv was admitted to Harvard earlier this year after gaining publicity as a conservative activist who opposed gun control measures. He also met with President Trump and was appointed the high school outreach director for the pro-gun group Turning Point USA. In late May, however, a series of racial slurs that he wrote roughly two years ago (in private messages and Google Docs) came under scrutiny, and Harvard rescinded Kashuv’s acceptance.

Kashuv’s Twitter thread, which included a statement in which  he said he had matured after the life-altering shooting, promptly went viral. Conservatives were quick to call out Harvard for failing to acknowledge Kashuv’s public apology and personal growth. However, his Twitter thread is the only evidence proving his “personal growth” or an apology. 

It’s obvious there’s no concrete proof that Kashuv had changed. He only felt it appropriate to apologize once his misdeeds were exposed. Had the documents never been revealed, he never would have acknowledged that writing those racial slurs was wrong. 

Kashuv’s choice of words was definitely offensive and uncalled for. In a Google Doc, Kashuv repeatedly typed racial slurs and  in text messages, he used slurs to comment on a female classmate choice in friends. 

These comments  reveal Kashuv’s immaturity and inability to understand the severity of the topics discussed. Any high school today would discipline a student for making such comments on campus. Universities should not be any different. 

While I am a firm believer in freedom of speech, common sense says that such freedoms shouldn’t be exploited to harm others. Doing so violates people’s rights to safety and consequently might hurt them. 

This situation somewhat mirrors Harvard’s decision to rescind offers to at least 10 students in 2017 after they traded sexually explicit and racist memes in a Facebook group chat. 

As someone smart enough to get into Harvard, Kashuv should have known that he would potentially face consequences for his actions should anyone find out about his comments. There is no legal jurisdiction that would prevent Harvard from rescinding him. Ultimately, Kashuv and his supporters seem to be forgetting that Harvard reserves all rights to accept or reject students as it pleases. 

Given the magnitude of Kashuv’s actions and  obvious insensitivity, Harvard is correct in its decision to rescind him. Likewise, I believe an applicant’s moral integrity is very important in college admissions. If students make poor decisions that are plainly immoral, they ought to expect repercussions.