Admission to Harvard College is not a right, it is a privilege. And it is a privilege Gina Grant does not deserve. Grant murdered her own mother brutally and in cold blood just five years ago. Now a senior at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, Grant was admitted to Harvard's Class of 1999 under the Early Action program before her mother's murder came to light. She moved to Cambridge from South Carolina four years ago to attend a probationary program and to reconstruct her life. Before that, she spent six months in a juvenile correctional facility.
Grant's crime was particularly gruesome. She bludgeoned her mother to death, striking her in the head 13 times with a lead crystal candlestick and crushing her skull. Thereafter, she and her boyfriend mutilated the body, inserting a knife into the dead woman's neck in an effort to make her death appear to be a suicide, and nearly severing her spinal cord.
The heinousness of Grant's crime, combined with the fact that it occurred so recently, are the primary reasons she does not deserve the privilege of attending this University. Further, we simply don't know whether or not Grant is still a violent person. The very possibility of rash behavior due to emotional instability is worrisome.
To be sure, Grant's crime, committed at the age of 14, was not necessarily so brutal that it can never be forgiven. At the time of the murder, Grant was living with a verbally abusive, alcoholic parent. Moreover, since her release, she has made great strides toward rehabilitating herself, through three-and-a-half academically successful years in high school.
Nevertheless, the evidence suggests that Grant herself has not yet fully come to terms with her deed. She did, it appears, refer to the murder anywhere on her Harvard application. Indeed, it seems she did not even check the box which indicates that she had been absent from school for a prolonged period of time (six months in a correctional institution certainly qualifies). She failed to provide full disclosure and thereby left the Admissions Committee ignorant of crucial information concerning her past.
The attorney now responsible for Grant's case claims that as a juvenile, Grant was not obliged to reveal her crime or probation. But the functioning of the juvenile justice system is not significant here. Even if Grant was not legally obligated to state the facts of her case, the honesty and forthrightness that the Admissions Committee rightly expects from applicants would have required her to tell the whole truth, regardless of how it would have affected her admission. If Grant had truly come to terms with her actions, she would have acknowledged them on her application to Harvard, whether or not the law requires her to do so.
Gina Grant is indeed on trial again, but we cannot come to her defense. The College reserves the right to rescind offers of admission at its discretion if an applicant misrepresents facts or "engages in behavior that brings into question honesty, maturity or moral character." Surely Grant fulfills all of these criteria.
Admission to Harvard is incredibly selective; this year, only about 12 percent of 17,847 applications were accepted. Students are frequently denied admission for things much less serious than murder. Whether or not Harvard should know about Grant's past is irrelevant, Now that the University does know, that information must be a factor in the admissions process.
The Gina Grant who was originally presented to the Admissions Committee was worthy of acceptance to Harvard. But the real Gina Grant is not; she committed a vicious crime with which, to judge by her application, she has not yet come to terms. For both of these reasons--primarily, because of the murder, and secondarily, because she seems to have lied about it--we believe Grant lacks the honesty, maturity and moral character rightly expected of Harvard students.
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