Harvard buildings evacuated

Harvard University sent out an alert around 9:10 a.m.:

Alert: Unconfirmed reports of explosives at four sites on campus: Science Center, Thayer, Sever, and Emerson. Evacuate those buildings now.



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    Hopefully this turns out to be a prank, but one thing for certain, it appears to be good way to up the number of followers on Harvard's Twitter account. Keep refreshing their page and the number of followers keeps rolling up like an odometer at a racetrack.

    Be safe people.



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    I am having fun now! Click click click click...


    Oh, the still-adolescent brain...

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    Assuming that this is a prank to avoid a final, as I certainly hope it is, it demonstrates that even Harvard students don't have the perspective to realize that the consequences of a botched final, while upsetting, are far more easily remedied than the consequences of being arrested for making a bomb threat.

    That said, I reiterate the above poster's "Everyone stay safe".

    There is no way this isn't a hoax.

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    Most likely to get out of finals. People know they can maniulate security overreaction to get what they want now.

    Final exams

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    How convenient that this scare coincides with finale exams, which have now been cancelled.

    Might have worked in the '80s and '90s

    Now all the University has to do is find rooms elsewhere, send the proctors there with the exam (reprinted if the copies were in the affected buildings), and tweet/e-mail all the students and proctors about the location changes.



    I had a final relocated in 2003 at the last minute due to a power outage/electrical fire, so they can do this ... unless they are concerned that a student perpetrator has a Plan B.

    I guess they are all getting A's anyway ... (ducks)

    *UPDATE* looks like they might be relocating afternoon exams: https://twitter.com/Harvard/status/412621167774924800


    Sucks to be the other students

    So they'll reschedule the exams in a few days, likely screwing over all the students who had planned on being done and had already booked travel elsewhere.

    When they find the person all they'll need to do is publish the name and let that person's classmates take care of the punishment.


    They won't publish a name

    Brandeis did that. Once. It resulted in a lawsuit that was quickly and very expensively settled (this was in about 2002 or '03, but definitely when I was part of the staff there).

    My proposed solution when we had a series of these hoaxes in consecutive semesters was to flunk everyone who had a final cancelled. Office of University Counsel flipped out because they didn't like the logic of it: if everyone in a block of finals gets an automatic F when exams are cancelled due to a bomb hoax, there is no incentive for the hoax. The risk reward ratio is so heavily skewed against it, it would never happen with rational actors ('rational' being a reach for most undergrads, I admit). The university's objection was that someone desperate enough might still call in a hoax, which I think speaks to the rationality of the undergraduate body more than to my logic.

    My objection to my own idea was that, in a situation where Student A hates Student B with a fiery passion, A might call in a hoax for B's finals, thus giving hir enemy an F.



    My comment about releasing the name was a joke. If they do find the person (I suspect they will) there will be serious felony charges against that person and Harvard will quickly expel them. If you are going to get kicked out of Harvard regardless bad grades would seem to be preferable to being led out in handcuffs.

    But I didn't get into Harvard so maybe there is a nuance I'm missing. Perhaps going to jail is preferable to what his/her parents will do when they find out the years of test prep and violin lessons didn't amount to much.


    What was your flip response

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    What was your flip response to the marathon bombings? Something about not wanting to finish the race?


    An oldie but a goodie

    From the School of Arts and Sciences
    To the classrooms by the Mall
    We will call in bomb threats every day
    Till police shut down them all
    We're not Weathermen or radicals
    We have never screamed or yelled
    This is just our way of making sure
    That exams will not be held.



    Seems to be a pretty close fit to the Godiva's Hymn/Engineers' drinking song ...


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    I'd have guessed the Marines' Hymn myself.

    Marine Corps hymn

    "from the halls of Montezuma" etc.

    is what immediately came into my mind when I read those lyrics


    Ron and the Anons

    Have it right.

    The song is courtesy Mad Magazine circa 1975, filtered through my patchy memory. I wish I could post the funny drawings of long-hairs in shaggy vests with googly eyeballs and hanging tongues. No, calling in bomb threats on exam day is not a new thing. The new thing is paying any attention to them.


    All clear

    Almost as quickly as it all happened, they announced it was a false report. Not sure how the determination was made.

    EDIT: Talking about the UMB situation, not Harvard.


    These things are contagious

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    During the Viet Nam war they were so endemic on university campuses that they
    were routinely ignored.

    I have a question; has anyone ever called in to report an actual
    bomb that wasn't set in a laboratory? In this day and age I'd say we need to be worried
    about people who are into mass murder and they're unlikely to give a warning ahead
    of time. Any caller who isn't willing to readily identify themselves and meet fact-to-face
    with law enforcement should probably be treated with some level of skepticism...

    Apparently this was an IRA

    Apparently this was an IRA tactic.

    Imagine, however, what people would say if Harvard ignored the threat and something happened. I don't think the administration had any choice but to be safe rather than sorry.

    We went through a spate of bomb threats one spring when I was a senior in high school. The first few days we all trooped outside, but the third day, we practiced an early form of "shelter in place" while a sweep went through the hallways. Of course, nothing was ever found. I'm not even sure if the people doing this were caught (this was well before cellphones and caller ID.)

    A difference from the IRA

    The IRA had a series of code words and phrases that they used to authenticate that it really was them. I'm curious why this threat was deemed credible.

    Not quite clear yet ...

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    Not quite clear yet ...

    12:54 Thayer and Emerson Hall are cleared and students may return. Sever and Science Center are still closed.