LAS VEGAS (AP) — Few college-bound kids lose their shot, and their slot, at their dream school once they get in, but it happened at one of the world’s most elite institutions and for a reason that has, until recently, hardly registered in the university admissions process: social media.
Harvard University’s decision to rescind admission offers to 10 incoming freshmen because of offensive Facebook posts comes at a time of heightened attention to free speech and student conduct on U.S. college campuses, and has stirred debate far beyond the halls of the Ivy League school.
Other schools say it’s an eye-opener for those involved in the admissions process.
“We’re going to continue to watch how this unfolds and, with other higher ed institutions, learn from it,” said Janet Bonkowski, spokeswoman for the University of Wisconsin in Green Bay.
Harvard rescinded the admission offers after discovering the students had traded offensive images and messages on a private Facebook group, student newspaper The Harvard Crimson reported. The posts were often sexually explicit and mocked Mexicans, the Holocaust, sexual assault and child abuse.
The Cambridge, Massachusetts, university declined to comment, but the school does tell accepted students their offers can be withdrawn if their behavior “brings into question their honesty, maturity or moral character.”
Its decision may have been rare, but the situation it addressed was not: young applicants crossing lines in their social media posts.
Mike Reilly, a former college admissions officer in Washington state and now an executive with the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, said Harvard’s move can be seen as incongruent with free speech.
But Nancy Beane, a high school counselor in Atlanta and president of the National Association for College Admission Counseling, said zero tolerance for racist comments should be the standard for all institutions of higher education.
“We’re all humans. We’re all going to…