After planning to spend the next four years studying at Harvard University, Kyle Kashuv had his admissions rescinded for comments unearthed from his past, proving that we are no longer able to grow from our mistakes
I cannot count the mistakes I made throughout high school. From the ages of 14 to 18, more growth in intellect, intelligence and overall maturity occurs than ever before in a young adult’s life. To change or ruin their future based on an action of those four years is simply reprehensible, and Kyle Kashuv’s case sets a horrifying precedent.
In an idiotic attempt to be as flamboyant and noticed as possible, Kashuv and his former Stoneman Douglas High School classmates, at 16 years old, said some things online they shouldn’t have. Notably, Kashuv used the n-word. These events occurred just months before the Parkland shooting at Kashuv’s school, an event which forced too many kids to grow up too fast.
According to Shera S. Avi-Yonah and Delano R. Franklin of the Harvard Crimson, “Kyle became involved in gun rights advocacy in the wake of a mass shooting at the school that killed 17. He also served as the high school outreach director for Turning Point USA, a nonprofit conservative advocacy group.” This was not a popular position to take after the horrifying event and many of his classmates were not happy about it.
Once his political enemies realized that they had evidence against Kashuv, they decided to publicize his comments.
Immediately after the comments were seen, Kashuv issued a response on social media. In Many, he tweeted an apology for the racial slurs he used in text messages in a private Google Doc. One would think that would be the end of it.
When these messages were revealed to the Harvard admissions office, Kashuv had to live through the mistakes of his past once again, but he handled the heat well. Kashuv reached out to both the diversity and admissions offices at Harvard.
“Let me first state that I apologize unequivocally for my comments, which were made two years ago in private among equally immature high school students,” Kashuv wrote. “I said them, I regret them, and by explaining the context and my subsequent experiences I am not trying to excuse them.”
Kashuv also reached out to the diversity office seeking help and advice on how to get acclimated to the campus once he arrived. According to Kashuv’s tweets, the diversity office responded by thanking him for his growth and maturity in reaching out; however, the admissions office decided to proceed with rescinding his admission.
According to Scott Jaschik of Inside Higher Ed, “Kashuv tried to appeal for a meeting to urge Harvard to reconsider and was turned down. He noted in his tweets that Harvard’s decision to rescind his offer of admission came after he turned down other admissions offers that had scholarships attached.”
Here is the bottom line: Harvard has the right to take back whatever admissions they choose, but the precedent they set was entirely uncalled for.
Kashuv would not be receiving any of the backlash he got if he had been a gun-control activist. Instead he would be receiving the same treatment and protection as others, including David Hogg. Not only did Kashuv express complete remorse for his actions, but they were said privately and unearthed with ulterior motives.
Of course, we have to realize that college acceptances are based on the actions we take in high school, but for Harvard to act as though Kashuv had not grown or shown improvements in character is absurd.
According to Isaac Stanley-Becker of The Washington Post, “Over the years, Harvard has dropped a number of admitted students for a range of legal and ethical lapses, from accusations of sexual assault to revelations of plagiarism to participation in the online exchange of sexist and bigoted memes.” These actions seem a lot more characteristic of people than using an inappropriate word on a private server.
Apologizing and explaining his past mistakes was not enough. What does this mean for all future college students, professors, politicians, or political activists? It means no matter what age you were when you made a mistake, it can haunt you for the rest of your life.
This is not a standard that can or should be kept for every person. We are constantly evolving, constantly growing and constantly making mistakes. Unless Harvard plans to take a look at every private message ever sent, to entirely determine the character of its student body, this decision was not the correct one. Harvard has created an impossible standard to keep.
We live in a society where we believe in redemption and second chances. This has nothing to do with politics. This is about merit. It is about what is fair for humanity.
If this is the new standard, that we are not allowed to grow from our past mistakes, America faces a troubling future.