Harvard rescinds offer to Parkland gun rights activist after racist messages surface online

Kyle Kashuv, a Parkland, Fla., shooting survivor turned gun rights activist and conservative pundit, was set to attend Harvard University next year.

But Kashuv announced on Twitter Monday that the school rescinded its acceptance offer after racist messages he exchanged with other students months before the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School surfaced online.

Kashuv posted letters he exchanged with Harvard officials beginning late last month, when the racist comments he made in a shared Google document and text messages were shared by fellow students and published by HuffPost. Kashuv repeatedly used the N-word and referred to black athletes at the school as “n***** jocks.”

“We were 16-year-olds making idiotic comments, using callous and inflammatory language in an effort to be as extreme and shocking as possible,” Kashuv, now 18, tweeted on May 22. “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 have become in the years since.”

Three days later, William R. Fitzsimmons, Harvard’s dean of admissions and financial aid, sent Kashuv a letter asking him to explain himself. Kashuv responded in a lengthy letter of apology, saying he had matured since posting those messages and does not “recognize the person who wrote those things.”

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Parkland shooting survivor Kyle Kashuv
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Parkland shooting survivor Kyle Kashuv
Kyle Kashuv, survivor of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, speaks at the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action Leadership Forum in Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Friday, April 26, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 20: Kyle Kashuv speaks onstage at Politicon 2018 at Los Angeles Convention Center on October 20, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael S. Schwartz/Getty Images)
Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, center, hugs Kyle Kashuv, 16, and Patrick Petty, 17, both from Parkland, Fla., following a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 13, 2018. On the far left is Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. Hatch is the lead sponsor of the school safety bill, aiming to replicate the success of a program in his home state of Utah. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Kyle Kashuv, survivor of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, speaks at the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action Leadership Forum in Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Friday, April 26, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 13: Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students Kyle Kashuv (R) and Patrick Petty (2nd L), who lost his 14-year-old sister Alaina Petty during the mass shooting, share a moment during a news conference with U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) (L) in front of the U.S. Capitol March 13, 2018 in Washington, DC. Sen. Hatch held a news conference to discuss the STOP School Violence Act. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - APRIL 26: Chris Cox (L), executive director of the NRA-ILA, introduces Kyle Kashuv, a Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student, during the NRA-ILA Leadership Forum at the 148th NRA Annual Meetings & Exhibits on April 26, 2019 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The convention, which runs through Sunday, features more than 800 exhibitors and is expected to draw 80,000 guests. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
FORT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 13: Kyle Kashuv and Christian Rowell (L-R) listen as Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announces, during a press conference at the Broward County Courthouse, that he is ordering a statewide grand jury investigation into how the Broward County’s school district and other districts in the State of Florida handle student security on February 13, 2019 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Gov. DeSantis made the announcement a day before the one-year anniversary of the Feb. 14 school shooting that left 17 dead. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - APRIL 26: Kyle Kashuv (R), a Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student introduces activist Candace Owens during the NRA-ILA Leadership Forum at the 148th NRA Annual Meetings & Exhibits on April 26, 2019 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The convention, which runs through Sunday, features more than 800 exhibitors and is expected to draw 80,000 guests. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 13: (L-R) U.S. Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT), Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Patrick Petty (3rd L), son of Ryan Petty (4th L) who lost his 14-year-old daughter Alaina Petty during the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Kyle Kashuv, a junior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) listen during a news conference in front of the U.S. Capitol March 13, 2018 in Washington, DC. Sen. Hatch held a news conference to discuss the STOP School Violence Act. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
DALLAS, TX - MAY 04: Executive director NRA-ILA Chris Cox, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student Kyle Kashuv and Charlie Kirk, founder and executive director of Turning Point USA, pose for a photo at the NRA-ILA Leadership Forum during the NRA Annual Meeting & Exhibits at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center on May 4, 2018 in Dallas, Texas. The National Rifle Association's annual meeting and exhibit runs through Sunday. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
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“My intent was never to hurt anyone,” he wrote. “I also feel I am no longer the same person, especially in the aftermath of the Parkland shooting and all that has transpired since.”

He also informed the dean that he had attempted to begin a “dialogue” with the school’s office of diversity to “express my deepest apologies and remorse.”

Harvard informed Kashuv of its decision revoking his acceptance on June 3.

“After careful consideration the committee voted to rescind your admission to Harvard College,” Fitzsimmons wrote. “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 says he then requested an in-person meeting to “make my case face to face and work towards any possible path of reconciliation.”

Fitzsimmons declined the request.

Kashuv was a junior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14, 2018, when 17 people were killed in a mass shooting at the South Florida school.

In the weeks and months following the massacre, Kashuv’s pro-gun positions put him at odds with Parkland student activists, like David Hogg and Jaclyn Corin, who organized March for Our Lives events protesting gun violence. (Both Hogg and Corin were accepted to Harvard and plan to attend in the fall.)

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Parkland shooting survivor David Hogg
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Parkland shooting survivor David Hogg
David Hogg, a student and shooting survivor from the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, addresses the conclusion of the "March for Our Lives" event demanding gun control after recent school shootings at a rally in Washington, U.S., March 24, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
David Hogg, a student at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, site of a February mass shooting which left 17 people dead in Parkland, Florida, thrusts his fist in the air as he speaks during the "March for Our Lives" event demanding gun control after recent school shootings at a rally in Washington, U.S., March 24, 2018. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
David Hogg, a student at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, site of a February mass shooting which left 17 people dead in Parkland, Florida, speaks as students and gun control advocates hold the "March for Our Lives" event demanding gun control after recent school shootings at a rally in Washington, U.S., March 24, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
David Hogg, a student at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, site of a February mass shooting which left 17 people dead in Parkland, Florida, speaks as students and gun control advocates hold the "March for Our Lives" event demanding gun control after recent school shootings at a rally in Washington, U.S., March 24, 2018. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
David Hogg, a student at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, site of a February mass shooting which left 17 people dead in Parkland, Florida, thrusts his fist in the air as he speaks during the "March for Our Lives" event demanding gun control after recent school shootings at a rally in Washington, U.S., March 24, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
David Hogg, a senior from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, speaks during a rally with Thurgood Marshall Academy students in advance of Saturday's March for Our Lives event in Washington, U.S. March 22, 2018. REUTERS/Eric Thayer
Emma Gonzalez (L), David Hogg (C) and Cameron Kasky, survivors of the February mass shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, pause for a moment of silence for the victims of the shooting at Great Mills High School in Maryland, before discussing their "#NeverAgain" push to end school shootings at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S., March 20, 2018. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
Emma Gonzalez (L) and David Hogg, survivors of the February mass shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, discuss their "#NeverAgain" push to end school shootings at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S., March 20, 2018. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
David Hogg, a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, speaks at a rally calling for more gun control three days after the shooting at his school, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, U.S. February 17, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake
Marjory Stoneman Douglas student David Hogg speaks during March for Our Lives to demand stricter gun control laws on Saturday, March 24, 2018, in Washington, D.C. (Mike Stocker/Sun Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 24: Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student David Hogg speaks onstage at March For Our Lives on March 24, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images for March For Our Lives)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 23: Dan Rather hosts a SiriusXM Roundtable Special Event with Parkland, Florida, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Students and activists Emma Gonzalez, David Hogg (pictured), Cameron Kasky, Alex Wind, and Jaclyn Corin at SiriusXM Studio on March 23, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Larry French/Getty Images for SiriusXM)
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They also made Kashuv a star among conservatives, landing him spots on Fox News and a White House meeting with President Trump and first lady Melania Trump.

Kashuv said he had given up “huge scholarships” to go to Harvard, and that the deadline for accepting offers to other colleges had passed. He recently resigned from Turning Point USA, a nonprofit that promotes conservative values at high schools and colleges across the country.

“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,” Kashuv, whose Twitter bio still lists Harvard, tweeted. “So what now? I’m figuring it out.”

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