Fake GSL cancellations create uproar@ByName:By Reuven M. Lerner
Bursar Shirley M. Picardi said yesterday that her office began receiving telephone calls on Tuesday at about 10 am. Between five and six hundred students have called since then, she added.
Picardi noted that the mailing was "not confined to specific dorms," and that "students all across the campus" had called to complain. "Some freshmen were crying," she added. Picardi was not sure whether graduate students had received the letters.
In a letter sent to The Tech Picardi said that "all of the students [who called the Bursar's Office] were upset, because [the letters] gave the definite impression that there was nothing they could do about it without hiring an attorney." The letter to students says that "further documentation . . . will be forwarded upon request of attorney." Picardi said that the "phone calls have tapered off" since Tuesday.
James F. Mahoney Jr., deputy chief of Campus Police, said that the Bursar's Office and Campus Police were working together to find out who sent the letters. He said that the Campus Police has "had the Bursar's Office save 10 to 12 letters," and that "we are going to try to trace the letters back through interdepartmental mail." Mahoney admitted that this might be "problematic."
The letters were sent through interdepartmental mail in blank envelopes without any return address, and were placed on photocopied Bursar's Office stationary. In addition, the word "HA!" was placed inside of the MIT "Mens et Manus" symbol. Mahoney said that notices of loan cancellation were normally sent "to a permanent address, via US Mail."
The letter from HA! implies that this would not the group's final activity. They wrote that they "plan to change" the amount of hacking that takes place on campus.
Picardi was "distressed" to see "so many students so upset" about the mailing, and said that "we care how students deal with financial problems." "Their minds should be on their academic pursuits," she added.
Mahoney said that "if we have any names or inkling of who did it, we will refer it to the Office of the Dean for Student Affairs." He was not sure what kind of action the Dean's Office would take.
"This has never happened to the Bursar's Office, nor to any office that I know of," Picardi said. She added, "I have been here since 1970. I have seen a lot of hacks, and most of them are funny and do not hurt people. I think that this one hurt students."