Parkland survivor says Harvard revoked his admission over racist remarks

Victoria Bekiempis in New York
Photograph: Michael Conroy/AP

A survivor of the Parkland school shooting says Harvard University has revoked his acceptance over racist comments he made online and in text messages.

Kyle Kashuv, who became a pro-gun conservative activist after the mass shooting in March last year, tweeted on Monday that Harvard “has decided to rescind my admission over texts and comments” made before the massacre.

Kashuv’s comments were made while using a Google Doc with schoolmates in December 2017. A video of his edits to the Google Doc, and those of other school students, were recorded in a video and posted online by a former classmate earlier this year. The video showed Kashuv using comments he later described as “abhorrent racial slurs” in his correspondence with Harvard.

“A few weeks ago, I was made aware of egregious and callous comments classmates and I made privately years ago - when I was 16 years old, months before the shooting – in an attempt to be as extreme and shocking as possible,” Kashuv tweeted on Monday.

“I immediately apologized,” Kashuv wrote, claiming that “former peers & political opponents” had then pressured Harvard to rescind its offer.

Kashuv posted a letter to Twitter, dated 24 May, from Harvard that demanded an explanation from him within 72 hours, and said it “reserves the right to withdraw an offer of admission”.

Kashuv posted correspondence between himself and the college, which resulted in a letter from Harvard, dated 3 June, 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.”

Asked for comment, Harvard said “we do not comment publicly on the admissions status of individual applicants”.

In its coverage of the comments in the Google Doc, the New Yorker described the initial edits as “attempts at humor”, but said “Kashuv’s contributions were more unhinged”.

“He referred, in capital letters, to ‘my jewish slaves’. Elsewhere, he wrote the N-word eleven times in a row,” the New Yorker reported. “‘I’m really good at typing” the word, he explained. ‘Practice uhhhhhh makes perfect.’”

After the video was posted on Twitter, Kashuv stood down as high school outreach director with Turning Point USA, a group that promotes conservative ideas on school and college campuses.