just because you can…

Tuesday was not my day.  At all.  Other than a fine pick-me up with Jason Meier and Amma Marfo at the end of the day, I could have gone without some of the things that went down.  So, finding this article in my twitter feed from HuffPostEdu did not help my mood.

Essentially, tl;dr, supposedly, incoming MIT first years hacked the unofficial Harvard Class of 2017 website, replacing user pictures with pictures of Mitt Romney, and every user text entry with phrases like “Damn, I wish I had as much swag as the MIT kids.” (Now, this point confuses me, because I’m wondering if it truly was an MIT student, because I haven’t heard swag used on this campus in my 6 months, unless it was being uttered by me… truth.)

Harvard’s Class of 2017 has declared war and has offered the incoming MIT class terms of surrender, including help moving in and baked goods.

From here on out, we work under the assumption that it was some member(s) of the MIT Class of 2017 that did this (and not someone else trying to make MIT students look bad).

What concerns me is that just because you can hack a website doesn’t mean you should.   Now, hack (MIT hacks =/= a website hack; but rather some event or activity that is above and beyond a prank, that requires signficant engineering knowledge put to use in a very non-classroom way- example and example and mothership of examples) is a charged word at MIT, and as I tweeted at an colleague Mike Z., hacks should be exciting achievements that do no harm to the greater MIT community or reputation, nor to the standing of your fellow students.  They should not be an embarrassment.

Yes, this was a prank pulled by 17 to 18 year olds coming into college, coming out of high school, and they have a long way to go in gaining the maturity we expect out of our students. But, this doesn’t help the digital identity of this particular student or the class as they enter the institution.

Just because you have the means and ability to do so, does not mean you should.  In fact, it is my hope, that at some point, whether through someone else’s processes or through a program my office offers, they learn to think twice about thinking this kind of stunt is worthwhile, either from personal experience or at a philosophical level.

Can we please wait to engage Harvard in a rivalry through some sort of fully-planned and well-executed service opportunity or beneficial hackathon, and not silliness that does not bode well for your class?

Or am I just barking up the wrong tree and should these students be let loose to have their fun?  Let me know.


3 thoughts on “just because you can…

  1. We’ve had a similar issue on our class Facebook group. Admissions encourages all admitted students to join the group once they’re accepted, and there are a handful of students that have decided to stay and be trolls even though they’ll be attending another institution.

    I’ve tried to be as hands-off as possible, figuring they’ll eventually get bored and find other ways to busy themselves. That probably won’t work very well at much higher profile schools like MIT and Harvard. I still think a certain amount of shenanigans should be tolerated (encouraged?), but drawing the line is the hardest part, as usual.

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