Law enforcement were able to figure out whose laptop had been used to access the anonymizing network Tor around the time the warning email had been sent. That doesn't necessarily mean that that student, Eldo Kim, actually sent that particular email. But it certainly provided law enforcement with ample reason to have a chat with Mr. Kim. Turns out Mr. Kim had dropped some other breadcrumbs. He had blasted the Quincy House student list for help preparing for the exam in Gov 1368, one of the exams given that morning. In any case, when confronted, he confessed, even after being Mirandized.
So he was worried about the exam and did not want to take it. I get that part. But why on earth did he choose to disrupt the lives of hundreds of his peers by canceling their exams as well as his own, and threaten the welfare of the community too by summoning in police and fire units?
It's easy to "sick out" of an exam. That's an abuse of the health system and an inconvenience to the doctors and nurses who have plenty of actually sick people to treat. But the radius of inconvenience caused is pretty limited.
Mr. Kim's acts were selfish to the point of narcissism. We have already started to hear that he was under stress---so reports his lawyer---though maybe it is "self-imposed stress." The lawyer also reports that Kim loves Harvard and wants to come back.
No. I get it---people are under stress, people snap. But there is an inexcusably hollow moral core to a person, even a mentally disturbed person (and no one has suggested Mr. Kim showed any signs of serious mental illness), who conveniences himself by disrupting the lives of hundreds of his peers and the safety of the civil community in which he lives.
Maybe there is a cultural factor. Mr. Kim is Korean by birth and a naturalized US citizen. I visited with some higher education officials in South Korea a few years ago and asked them what their biggest problem was. I was shocked to be told "suicide." I wonder if Mr. Kim has committed an Americanized form of suicide.
Suicide is bad enough; this bomb hoax was more like a murder-suicide.
This was a calculated act --- Kim didn't just pull a fire alarm (another old trick for disrupting an exam). It took some work to create the fraudulent email account and inject the clever email into the anonymizing network (two out of the four buildings will blow up, good luck guessing which two!). Though Kim did not do enough work, it turns out. He failed to realize that there was a reason Harvard registered his laptop the first time he connected to its wireless network. I am glad he was caught, I am angry at him and consider him an evil person. I am glad that on top of that I don't have to be ashamed of him as a computer science student for his poor grasp of network technology! (See Michael Mitzenmacher for more on that.)
Kim should be dismissed from Harvard. That is the technical term for being sent away forever, not for the usual one year that plagiarists and drunken pugilists get. (Dismissed students can in theory be voted back in, and as a nonbeliever in capital punishment I suppose I would leave that door open, in case he wins the Nobel Peace Prize a couple of decades from now.)
Kim should also get a good sentence of time behind bars, and I expect he will. When the Dersh says you are going to have a hard time finding anyone to defend you, you know the odds of getting off light are against you.
Having said all that, I still find something worrisome about this situation that I hardly dare mention. But what the hell.
Was it an accident that this incident, like the infamous cheating scandal, happened in a Government course? (I guess we don't know that it was the Gov 1368 exam Kim was trying to get out of, but that would seem a logical inference from the fact that he was worried about it and he had an exam that morning and that the Gov 1368 exam was that morning.)
This is from a comment by "Classmate" on a Crimson story:
It was a fairly easy class, but the exam was worth a very significant portion of the class grade, and we still haven't received a single (concrete) assignment grade to date.Now that's an anonymous comment, and the rest of it is very sympathetic to Kim. And it may not be an accurate description of the course --- I would love to know. The course syllabus states the requirements this way:
1. Short in-class quizzes covering assigned material for the day, class participation and performance, total of 30 %
2. Policy Paper and Presentation – 30%
3. Final Examination – 40%
I am reminded of how different courses are from each other.
I just turned in the 118 grades for CS 121. That's the biggest the course has ever been, by almost 50%. It is a tough course. There are 10 homework assignments. Each homework assignment has 3 parts to be turned in separately. These are math problems, no computer programming. People worked like hell, an assignment every week, a midterm exam, a final exam. We had a minor cheating issue about a month into the course and, instead of turning anyone over to the Ad Board, I wrote in huge letters on the blackboard at the next lecture, "DON'T BE STUPID!" and yelled at the whole class for 5 minutes, using my best angry-father voice. I think it worked.
If you want to be stressed, mine would be a logical course to be stressed in. And when the dust settled, a few clearly hoped that their grade would have been just a little higher than it was. But mostly students in the course sent me nice notes after the course was over. They thanked the TFs, who they could see, with over 3000 papers to grade, were working just as hard as they were. Some walked into my office with a big smile on their face when they stopped by to look at what they had done wrong on the final exam.
There really seem to be multiple Harvards. The experience of the Gov students, if the tales of Gov 1310 and that comment about Gov 1368 are accurate, is in a different universe from the experience of CS students.
And the weird thing is, students seem to be emigrating from the easy majors and joining the tough ones. A freshman came into my office recently, the graduate of a top prep school. He had intended to study literature but was enrolled in CS 50, which he thought was cool. He wanted understand what it would mean to major in computer science.
Of course CS 50 and other CS courses have their own issues of cheating and other bad behavior. But it seems that in general, the ambitious Harvard students are choosing to run up hill, and they like it. Are the bottom-feeders, like Mr. Kim, being disproportionately left behind in fields where they have gotten the impression they can cope without much effort?