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Hack brings Yard Plate to campus

Hack brings Yard Plate to campus

Harvard College freshmen gathered in Harvard Yard last night from 10:30 pm to midnight to search for an 11x20-inch silver-plated platter called the Yard Plate.

But before freshmen could be initiated into Harvard life with this orientation event -- now in its second year -- students were introduced to another college's way of life . . . ours, with an MIT hack. For instead of Harvard's Dean Burriss Young hiding the plate from the freshmen -- as the "tradition" calls for -- the plate was hidden from him.

A group of hackers, calling themselves "MOLE HOLE," delivered the plate yesterday morning to President Paul E. Gray '54 along with a note that read, "We give you this small token in appreciation of your years of dedication to traditional Tech values. We hope you enjoy having this little bit of their tradition. It might amuse you to know that the Harvard Class of '94 spends an evening searching Harvard Yard for what is now in your hands. . . . Please feel free to dispose of the gift as you see fit."

Gray was uncertain as to what exactly the plate was at first and how to "dispose" of it. At 11 am yesterday, the president was still considering several "clever" methods, according to Karen M. Tenney, administrative assistant to the president.

Gray eventually decided to return the plate directly to Young, in order to permit the search to take place last night. But he made certain to return the plate in traditional MIT fashion. At 2:15 pm, the president, dressed in full academic regalia, traveled to the Harvard dean's office, accompanied by police escort.

Gray said that the temporary "loan" of the plate to MIT was in the tradition of MIT hacks that have been inflicted on its neighbor up the street over the years -- including the MIT weather balloon set off at the Harvard-Yale football game in 1982 and the brass rat that was welded to the John Harvard statue in May 1979.