On Monday, Kyle Kashuv, a Parkland shooting survivor, said Harvard rescinded his admission after screenshots showed him using racial slurs in late 2017 and early 2018. Earlier this year, the 18-year old high school outreach director for Turning Point USA (a conservative non-profit student organization) was admitted to the university class of 2023.
A former student and a current student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shared the racist messages with the HuffPost. A related article was then published on May 23. The screenshots showed Kashuv using the N-word in text conversations and a shared Google Doc.
When responding to the ordeal on Twitter, Kashuv said this is not about him.
“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,” he said.
Kashuv brings about a valid question. One that is difficult to answer because as a society we are currently going through the woods on these issues. But forgiveness and reprimanding are not mutually exclusive.
You can be forgiven but still have to pay the debt to society. Part of asking for forgiveness is dealing with the aftermath and accepting the consequences of the actions.
Everyone does stupid things in high school. But the things Kashuv said were horrible not just stupid. In the screenshot of his Google Doc comment, he said he was so good at typing the N-word because “practice uhhhhhh makes perfect.” This cannot be ignored as just another teenage mishap. If Harvard still admitted Kashuv, it would have been glazing over a serious lack of moral character and maturity, which the university emphasized as one of its main concerns in its response letter to Kashuv’s apology.
At least one other student on the Google Doc appeared to be making racist comments as well. It doesn’t matter if the comments were made “in private among equally immature high school students” as Kashuv said in his letter to Harvard in a bid to explain himself. Although Kashuv now understands his group of friends was a poor choice, we imagine Harvard would want a student who would stand up to this group “trying to use the worst words and say the most insane things imaginable.”
In the text messages, Kashuv said “[She] goes for n*****jocks,” talking about a female student and suggesting she prefers black men compared to “pasty jew” (from the screenshots it’s unclear what the context for this is) as Vox reports. Even if he didn’t use this appalling slur, the overall conversation is revealing enough to show his character was not great. Rating a girl on a number scale, commenting on who she might prefer to be intimate with, saying she “over plucks her eyebrows”? Seriously, dude? At the age of 16, some truths have yet to be learned, but the ones seemingly unknown to Kashuv are ones most high school students have a grasp on.
Sixteen is old enough to understand the egregiousness of the history behind the racial slur. Kashuv used the N-word eleventimes in a row on a sharedGoogle Doc for an Advanced Placement U.S. History study guide, an almost ironic place to use such a slur. You’d think someone in said class would have enough knowledge on history not to even think of using the word.
It makes sense for Harvard to rescind his admission. It would be disrespectful to black Harvard students and applicants who were rejected or waitlisted if Kashuv was admitted after his choice in words were brought to admission’s attention.
Saying racist slurs continuously cannot be demoted as a simple mistake. Kashuv will have to do more to show he has changed. He is on the right path by realizing his horrendous actions and apologizing. But reparations are in order.
Forgiving is not forgetting. Kashuv’s comments are disgusting. Harvard rescinding his admission does not make him irredeemable, just not Harvard material.
The Alligator Editorial Board includes the Opinions Editor Jackie De Frietas, Editor-in-Chief Mark Stine and managing editors Hannah Beatty and Lindsey Breneman.