opinion

In a last-ditch act of online redemption, Parkland shooting survivor Kyle Kashuv took to Twitter Monday to announce Harvard University has rescinded his acceptance due to racist comments he made in 2017.

Through the 13-tweet thread, Kashuv acknowledged and apologized for his “abhorrent racial slurs” against African-American classmates in digital messages, which were made when the pro-Second Amendment activist was 16 years old. Upon discovery of Kashuv’s comments, Harvard requested and received an explanation from Kashuv, which ultimately resulted in the letter of rescindment he received on June 3.

The loss of Kashuv’s admission into Harvard ignited a national controversy in a matter of minutes. Conservative media outlets set the internet ablaze with allegations of liberal bias in academia, from The National Review to prominent right-wing pundit Ben Shapiro, who accused Harvard of setting up “an insane, cruel standard no one can possibly meet.”

Unfortunately for him and his conservative allies, Kashuv is now faced with the no-exemption rule of accountability — which is dealt to all in some way or form, despite the series of unfortunate events life may hand to human beings.

By the age of 16, all should be aware of the discriminatory weight that such a six-letter slur holds against African-Americans...just as Kashuv was when he weaponized that slur against minority student athletes.

16 years old is not too young to comprehend the stained history invoked when someone non-black uses that slur...the same slur Kashuv wielded freely over a dozen times in the leaked messages.

This rescindment should be seen less about Kashuv and more about the classmates who he was callously racist against. The fact that these private comments were leaked shouldn’t be used in Kashuv’s defense. Racist remarks said in the comfort of seclusion doesn’t make them any less racist. Words said in the past doesn’t make them automatically unsaid in the present.

It’s simply wishful thinking to want our apologies to work as exemptions. In life, all must face the consequences that come with the choices we make. Kashuv, a student who was smart enough to get into Harvard in the first place, idiotically chose to use a racist slur by himself. One can’t help but wonder if he’s sorry that these words were said or sorry that they were revealed to be said by him.

What Kashuv went through at Parkland was tragic and no one should be subjected to such trauma, especially in a place of learning. However, our past grows into our present and words don’t just dissipate because we’ve gotten two years older. Trauma doesn’t give you a get out of jail free card. That’s life, not liberal bias.

In a letter to Kashuv, Harvard made it clear that the university reserves the right to withdraw an offer of admission under various conditions, including “if you engage or have engaged in behavior that brings into question your honesty, maturity or moral character.” Bragging about how good one is at typing the n-word and demonizing a female classmate for being attracted to African-American athletes doesn’t exactly exude morality or maturity, but leave it to Kashuv to play the victim for a situation he put himself in.

As a college student, you are a de-facto representative of your institution — the more prestigious your university is, the more you should expect to be held to the highest of standards.

Whether we like it or not, college administrators can have their eyes and ears in moments of preferred privacy. One exposed mistake can end your pursuit of a degree in minutes and the permanence of the internet is an excuse that will never be suffice enough.

Going to college is a great privilege, but attending Harvard isn’t a right. If there’s one thing Kashuv can be grateful for, it’s the valuable lesson of accountability — learned debt-free, without borrowing a loan or spending a dime of federal aid.

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