Harvard “meme decision” shows how local colleges track student posts

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(WSPA) – The wrong move online can cost you your future. At least 10 Harvard students learned that truth, when the University took back offers to come to school. So we checked in with local colleges to see how they track students, and we found out it’s more than you might think.

Nowadays an acceptance into college usually comes with an invite to a Facebook page dedicated to your graduating class.

“When it works well it’s great,” said Kayla Wong, a rising junior at Furman University.

She says her graduating class of 2019 page is filled with harmless posts about buying text books and sharing rides to the airport.

But at Harvard, some members of the 2021 Graduating class, created a private chat group where members were encouraged to post memes joking about sexual assault, the Holocaust, and certain ethnic groups.

“I hate to see something that was so positive in my experience used in a way that was awful,” said Wong.

Brad Pochard, the Dean of Admissions at Furman University says the school actively monitors social media to make sure incoming and current students don’t violate its Acts of Intolerance code.

“Look at this story and don’t say oh that happened at Harvard. This is real, and students that are applying to any local school in the Upstate or even nationally, every college and University is looking at this. And if they’re not looking at it directly, they have eyes on campus or eyes other places that are looking at this,” said Pochard.

It’s not just the official social media sites that University’s like Furman are watching. Recently they had to speak with some students who posted inappropriate comments on a private GroupMe thread, but nothing to the level of what happened at Harvard.

Now, the loss of a Harvard education for at least 10 of its incoming freshman, has become a lesson for students across the nation.

“You can lose something that would have been really great and really amazing because you, you did something stupid and you made a dumb mistake.”

This isn’t the first time this has happened at Harvard. Last year, administrators there condemned a similar incident involving racist and sexist jokes made by admitted class of 2020 students on an unofficial class GroupMe chat. But no offers were rescinded.

Many other college campuses also have private pages dedicating to jokes that have thousands of followers. Page administrators say it’s becoming harder to police which memes cross the line.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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