From 18 to 21 In Six Easy Steps

Once upon a time, a freshman friend of ours had a problem. Here he was at Harvard away from his parents for the first time. The alcohol possibilities were endless. No more furtive sips of mommy's martini or daddy's daiquiri. At last a beer he could call his own.

Freshman week things were fine, but then--the moment of truth arrived. Registration, when the University inaugurated birthdates on bursar's cards. And with it the alcohol policy that accepts only bursar's cards as positive i.d. at any campus party in a public space.

Suddenly the future looked all too dry to our freshman friend. No more beers he could call his own.

But our intrepid Yardling was not daunted. He tried the local liquor store, using his California license, acquired in New York. The Pro said no. He tried the local supermarket, using his Columbia i.d., acquired at Phillips Exeter Academy. Broadway bagged him. And he tried local bars, using a fake moustache, acquired at his best friend's 10th birthday party. The Bow and Arrow shot him down.

But ingenuity prevailed. After all isn't that what college is all about?

Our freshman friend reverted to some tricks of the high school trade and started thinking about how to buy or make a fake Harvard i.d.

True, he hadn't gotten around to reading the Handbook of Students, page 85 to be exact. If he had, he would have seen the administration's warning to students, "Any student who transfers or abuses the University identification card is subject to College disciplinary action." Nor had he heard the words of Dean of the College L. Fred Jewett '57 who has said the Administrative Board will take such offenses seriously.

So, he persevered, heedless to these warnings. This story might have had an unhappy ending, but seeing as this is only a fable--kids you might not want to try this at home; then again you might--no police record or discipline awaits him at the end.

He found that so far, no Harvard student has developed the technology to create a bursar's card from scratch. Or if they have, they did not tell him. Apparently, the embossing on the i.d. card and the computer bar code are difficult to duplicate.

Therefore tampering with an existing card was the way to go. He tried several methods and here is what happened:

Step one: Get a new i.d.(See figure 1.) This was absolutely vital because he needs that bursar's card for the next three years.

New i.d. cards are available from the i.d. card office in Holyoke Center. He just told them he lost his i.d., batting his eyelashes in that innocent way he did when his mother entered his room just as he was putting out a cigarette or stashing the Playboy under his pillow. It cost him $25, but what are parents for? He charged it home.

He was careful to alter his old, not new i.d. The University changes the last digit of replacement bursar's cards and accepts only the most recent number.

Our freshman friend was suprised to discover that not many of his peers had undertaken this process. According to David R. Womback, i.d. office supervisor, this year the same number of students as in past years have come in for new cards.

Step two: Get a new label. (See figure 2.) Fortunately enough for our freshman friend, this, like most other necessities of Harvard, was available at the Coop. Avery Label Company makes the requisite three inch by one-third inch label and our friendly neighborhood bookstore stocks boxes of these.

Step three: Put the "right" information on the label. His upperclass friends were right when they told him to get a computer. Forget Macpaint, forget c.s. problem sets, forget word processing. He used his computer to duplicate the type on his real i.d. Sure he had to switch around to find a font that matched, but he always knew he would have to work to do well at Harvard.

(A note to Macintosh owners: borrow an IBM. As our Yardling's accomplice in crime says, "A Mac doesn't print as shittily as their printers.")

A regular typewriter is another option our friend discovered because the i.d. office types the labels on replacement cards.

Our friend was careful to select a realistic and memorable birthdate. He didn't want to forget it under stressful conditions. He also remembered not to change the i.d. number, and the computer bar code on the back had his real name as well.

Step four: Place the label on top of the original. (See figure 3.)

Step five: Relaminate. This was simple for our friend. One of his friends who works for a company with a laminating machine; offered him a hand and a fake i.d. But for those who don't have as good taste in friends, i.d. experts say that a store in Boston will laminate anything when the right employee is on duty. But that may be just a rumor.

A second option is purchasing an adhesive plastic cover--once again available at the Coop--and sticking it to the front of the i.d. on top of the new label.

Now our friend met his Waterloo. He valiantly tried to cut out a rectangle in the plastic used for the second lamination so that the "Harvard 1987-88" validation sticker would not be covered up. But his hand slipped and his' razor blade wasn't sharp enough.

(If he had been successful, all that remained for him to do was place his i.d. in a thick paper cover to keep the embossing from melting and then run the card through the laminator. He then would have gently traced over the embossing on the front with a sharp edge, such as the tip of a nail file to recreate the indentations.)

But all of this was too technical for our English major-to-be. He opted for another method. He went through steps one through three, see above.

Step Four: Peel open i.d. He started from the bottom edge and pulled the pieces far enough apart to reveal the sticker. A razor blade was perfect for scraping the old label off the card and the clear plastic cover.

Step Five: Insert the new label and reseal with old cover. He tried tape. No go. He wished he had not bid his significant other with the job with the laminator goodbye. He was left with crazy glue and ironing. Lucky he remembered to put the i.d. in a protective paper envelope before trying his ironing skills.

Step Six: Celebrate.

Thus ended our freshman's foray into the wonderful world of fake i.d.'s.

But if you're over the age of 18 (and under the age of 21) here are some other; more lurid, tales of adventure.

Snatching Extras

One sophomore had the foresight to steal blank i.d.s at registration. (And if you think our freshman friend had a fairy godmother, what about this woman?) The blank contained the Harvard seal and a sticker with someone's name (not that of the thief), but no picture, and it hadn't been sealed yet. The way was clear, but not the line.

Step one: Get a photo. Our sophomore returned to her room/instant photo studio. She set up a light blue background with a Veritas seal in the upper right hand corner and had her roommate take her picture. She had the photo printed in the appropriate size and inserted it into the correct spot. It wasn't perfectly straight, but then most real i.d. pictures aren't.

Steps two and on: See above.

Bring Your Own Label

A junior friend didn't approve of the kleptomanic approach and came to Registration prepared. Forewarned of the University's new policy, he had prepared a label with his "birthdate", circa 1966, which he brought with him to the general i.d. making session. After he substituted the new label, Harvard did the rest for him.

Needless to say, he was careful to make sure the type matched.

Find A Senior Friend

A senior friend of ours was feeling generous. She gave her little sister her temporary i.d. and sis walked in, and received her older sister's i.d. envelope and her birthdate. Her senior sister showed up at the i.d. office several days later and had a replacement i.d. made.

However, this story may prove that blood is thicker than alcohol. Few seniors--who already have the right to drink--will risk becoming implicated in such a plot.

Unfortunately, the big bad wolf of this fairy tale lurks behind every senior tutor's door. Most students don't have fairy godmothers to spirit them out of Ad Board meetings and "disciplinary probation" is not a magic word.

But all fairy tales do have happy endings and all students, even freshmen, eventually become legal.

Shari Rudavsky contributed her creative talents to the fables spun above.