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Student Who Survived Parkland School Shooting says Harvard University Rescinded Admission over Past Racist Remarks

June 17, 2019 - 12:34 pm
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A student who survived the school shooting in Parkland, Florida last year says Harvard University rescinded his admission over racist and anti-Semitic remarks from his past. Kyle Kashuv said on Twitter that his "egregious and callous comments" in leaked screenshots cost him a spot in one the world's most prestigious schools.

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

Kashuv announced in March that he'd been accepted into Harvard. Last month, screenshots leaked to the Huffington Post appeared to show him making bigoted comments when he was 16, months before the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. 

The screenshots — which came from texts, Skype messages and a shared Google document with classmates — reportedly showed Kashuv repeatedly using the N-word and also mocking Jews. He wrote in one comment, "Kill all the F***ING JEWS. F*** THE JEWS."

He admitted to authoring those comments and apologized shortly after they leaked, writing, "I'm embarrassed by it, but I want to be clear that the comments I made are not indicative of who I am or who I've become in the years since." But he now says Harvard decided that wasn't enough.

Kashuv, now 18, posted screenshots allegedly showing that Harvard requested a "full accounting" and "written explanation" of his offensive comments, and reminding him that the school could withdraw its offer of admission. He sent an apology and an email to the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, saying he would "enter Harvard as a more mature member of the community."

Kashuv posted a reply letter from Harvard, dated June 3, which said, "As you know, the [Admissions> Committee takes seriously the qualities of maturity and moral character. After careful consideration, the Committee voted to rescind your admission to Harvard College." 

Kashuv says Harvard turned down his request for an in-person meeting, and he's now figuring out his next steps. "I had given up huge scholarships in order to go to Harvard, and the deadline for accepting other college offers has ended. I'm exploring all options at the moment," he wrote.

A Harvard representative told CBS News that the university does not "comment publicly on the admissions status of individual applicants." But the representative said Harvard has the right to rescind admission offers under certain conditions, which includes if a student "engages or has engaged in behavior that brings into question their honesty, maturity or moral character."

Unlike many of his fellow Parkland survivors — who rose to prominence after the shooting by advocating for stricter gun control legislation — Kashuv became an avid pro-gun activist. He gave speeches in favor of the Second Amendment and allowing teachers to be armed. Kashuv was not invited to speak at the March for our Lives, a massive gun control rally in Washington organized by Parkland survivors.

Seventeen students and teachers were killed in the Parkland shooting on Valentine's Day in 2018.

Weeks after the shooting, Kashuv told CBS' "Face The Nation" he did not think restrictions on guns would stop mass shootings.

"I agree with them completely that this cannot happen ever again," he said about his classmates. "But I differ with them on what policy needs to be made." 

Another Parkland survivor, David Hogg — who became one of the school's leading gun control activists — was also accepted into Harvard and plans to begin classes there in the fall. Hogg did not comment on Harvard rescinding its offer to Kashuv. 

-CBS News