POLL: In Harvard vs. Kyle Kashuv, most students seem to side with school

A survey released Thursday found that 71 percent of college students believe that a past history of racist comments warrants the rescission of admission.

Data survey company College Pulse asked 3,610 college students various questions regarding whether personal conduct should have an effect on the admissions process. The survey results were released just days after Harvard University rescinded the admission offer of conservative student Kyle Kashuv, upon learning that he had used the n-word repeatedly in private chats.

Of those surveyed, 83 percent of black students agreed that racist comments should result in rescinded college admission, compared with 66 percent of white students, 75 percent of Hispanic students and 72 percent of Asian students who hold the same opinion.

Respondents were also asked a variety of questions related to what kind of other comments should warrant the rescission of admission:

  • Homophobic: 59 percent

  • Sexist: 62 percent

  • Transphobic: 54 percent

  • None of these: 24 percent

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When asked “at what age should prospective students be fully accountable for what they say and do?” a plurality of respondents (31 percent), stated that an individual should be held “fully accountable” for comments made when over the age of 16.

Sixty-six percent of respondents stated that a student’s “personal behavior” should be an important part of the admissions decision while 33 percent believe the primary concern should be the students’ academic performance.

When asked redemptive questions, 75 percent of respondents stated they believe “it is possible to make a racist or sexist joke without being racist or sexist” and 89 percent believe that individuals who have made “highly offensive statements” should be allowed to demonstrate that they have changed prior to an official determination of rescission.

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In June, Kyle Kashuv, a conservative student and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting survivor, had his admission to Harvard University officially rescinded after racist comments he made several years ago surfaced. Kashuv had said the n-word repeatedly in those comments, but the student claims they do not reflect his current worldview.

“[Prior to the school shooting] I was part of a group in which we used abhorrent racial slurs. We did so out of a misplaced sense of humor: we treated the words themselves as though they bore little weight, and used them only for their shock value,” Kashuv wrote in a letter to Harvard’s diversity and inclusion office. “Looking back two years later, I cannot recognize that person.”

Harvard’s admissions committee took Kashuv’s apology and explanation into account when deliberating his case, but ultimately determined he should not attend the Ivy League institution.

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“As you know, the Committee takes seriously the qualities of maturity and moral character,” William R. Fitzsimmons, Harvard dean of admissions, explained to Kashuv. “After careful consideration the Committee voted to rescind your admission to Harvard College. 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.”

Harvard’s decision has revived the conversation surrounding whether an individual’s past comments should be used when determining qualifications for things such as admission to a college or in keeping a job.

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