Harvard University rescinds its offer to Parkland survivor

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On February 14, 2018, a gunman opened fire with a semi-automatic rifle at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, killing 17 students and staff members and injuring 17 others. Witnesses identified Nikolas Cruz, a nineteen-year-old expelled student, as the assailant. Cruz entered the high school’s Freshman Building at 2:21 p.m. and unpacked his rifle in a stairwell. He exited the stairwell into a first-floor hallway, firing a stream of bullets down the corridor, shattering windows and shooting through doors. In just under two minutes, he murdered 11 people and injured 13 others. In all, Cruz’s attack lasted less than four minutes but resulted in sorrow that resonated internationally. 

The devastation felt by the Florida community was immediate. Student survivors took to social media to express their anger, giving interviews and setting trend to the hashtag, #NeverAgain, thereby sparking a nationwide movement for gun safety legislation. One student, Kyle Kashuv, has built a profile as a conservative gun rights activist of the #NeverAgain movement, gaining more than 300,000 followers on Twitter. On March 24, less than six weeks after the shooting, Kashuv helped organize the March for Our Lives, a demonstration in support of gun violence prevention. Students across the country were encouraged to stage walkouts, and a rally was held in Washington, D.C. There, anti-gun violence protesters from around the country spoke to a crowd of thousands, demanding legislative change.

On June 17, Kyle Kashuv let the world know that Harvard University had rescinded its admission offer over racist and offensive remarks he made as a 16-year-old. Kashuv’s comments were made while using a Google document with schoolmates in December 2017. A video of his edits to the Google document was recorded in a video and posted online by a former classmate. In the document, he referred, in capital letters, to ‘my jewish slaves’. Elsewhere, he wrote the N-word eleven times in a row and stated that ‘I’m really good at typing the word’ while explaining that ‘practice makes perfect’. 

Kashuv posted a letter to Twitter from Harvard that demanded an explanation from him within 72 hours, which said it reserved the right to withdraw an offer of admission. Kashuv posted correspondence between himself and the college, which resulted in a letter from Harvard, dated June 3, revoking an offer of a place to study there. “As you know, the Admissions Committee takes seriously the qualities of maturity and moral character,” the letter from William R Fitzsimmons, dean of admissions, reads. “After careful consideration, the Committee voted to rescind your admission to Harvard College. We are sorry about the circumstances that have led us to withdraw your admission, and we wish you success in your future academic endeavors and beyond.”

On Twitter, Kashuv repeatedly wrote that Harvard deciding someone can’t grow and mature is “concerning”. He frequently posted that he needs a second chance and that he is also exploring for any other options at the moment, as he gave up huge scholarships of which the deadlines have already ended. As some feel sympathy for Kashuv’s situation, others do not. Numerous individuals have spoken up about the circumstance, saying that “Harvard didn’t kill you. It is giving you a second chance, you just don’t know it”. In response to Kashuv’s statement that he doesn’t understand how a prestigious school like Harvard could judge a teenager for something he did two years ago, many fired back by saying that “that is exactly what colleges do”. NC State University supported these comments, saying that colleges are supposed to probe into privacy and distinguish students with harsh conclusions. Due to this incident, other colleges are now reflecting back on their choices and rules regarding admission and application.  

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