The story of ten students losing their offers of admission to Harvard University is gaining momentum. Many of us have been warned, or have warned others, that nothing on the internet is every truly private. Even popular shows like South Park and Black Mirror have delved into this idea of losing privacy through our use of social media.
What interested me most about this story was the university’s process in reaching out to the offending students and asking them to write a statement explaining their actions. According to one of the students who lost their offer, Harvard gave them a fairly short turnaround (by “noon the next day”) to submit this statement.
Whether you are fighting a traffic ticket, asking for an extension on a project, or in the position of needing to defend your admission spot, crafting a strategic, professional statement on short notice is an essential skill. While everyone has a right to a private life, and private conversations, I hope that the students affected by this situation– both those whose offers were rescinded and those who weren’t– learned an important lesson about how small the divide between personal and public can be in our online lives. Outrageous memes and off-color comedy will always exist, but it is up to each of us to decide what role we play in engaging or spreading it; ignoring or reporting it.
Read more about the story at NYmag.