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Harvard rescinds admission to Parkland survivor Kyle Kashuv over past comments

The Hill logo The Hill 6/17/2019 Jessica Campisi
a person standing in front of a brick building: Harvard rescinds admission to Parkland survivor Kyle Kashuv over past comments © Getty Images Harvard rescinds admission to Parkland survivor Kyle Kashuv over past comments

A survivor of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting said Monday that Harvard University has rescinded his acceptance after recently surfaced screenshots showed him using racial slurs a few months before the 2018 massacre in Parkland, Fla.

Kyle Kashuv, 18, who was admitted to Harvard earlier this year, wrote on Twitter that he had been made aware of "egregious and callous comments" he made when he was 16 years old.

Classmates had accused him of repeatedly using the N-word, according to The Washington Times and HuffPost.

Kashuv, a gun rights activist, later posted on Twitter explaining his previous remarks, saying "we were 16-year-olds making idiotic comments" and that he was "embarrassed by it," adding that "the comments I made are not indicative of who I am or who I've become in the years since."

"When your classmates, your teachers, and your neighbors are killed it transforms you as a human being," he wrote. "I can and will do better moving forward."

After widespread national coverage of the comments, as well as dozens of individuals calling on Harvard to rescind Kashuv's admission to the school, the university sent him a letter dated May 24 saying it "reserves the right to withdraw an offer of admission" and asked for a written explanation within 72 hours.

In his response to Harvard, Kashuv apologized "unequivocally" for his previous actions and said he'd reached out to the college's Office of Diversity Education and Support to "begin a dialogue that I hope will be the foundation of future growth."

In a letter dated June 3, Harvard notified Kashuv that it was rescinding his acceptance.

"As you know, the Committee takes seriously the qualities of maturity and moral character," Harvard wrote in the letter, which Kashuv posted to Twitter. "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."

Kashuv said he emailed William Fitzsimmons, Harvard's dean of admissions, asking for an in-person meeting to "make my case face to face and work towards any possible path of reconciliation." Fitzsimmons rejected the request, according to Kashuv.

In a written statement to The Hill, Harvard spokeswoman Rachael Dane said, "we do not comment publicly on the admissions status of individual applicants."

"Harvard deciding that someone can't grow, especially after a life-altering event like the shooting, is deeply concerning," Kashuv tweeted. "If any institution should understand growth, it's Harvard, which is looked to as the pinnacle of higher education despite its checkered past."

He added, "In the end, this isn't about me, it's about whether we live in a society in which forgiveness is possible or mistakes brand you as irredeemable, as Harvard has decided for me."

-- Updated at 10:50 a.m.

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