Bitter HBS Rejects Sulk Over Loophole
HBS Dean Kim B. Clark was emphatic in saying the applicants’ actions had been “unethical at best—a serious breach of trust that cannot be countered by rationalization,” flatly denying admission to the 119. Although Carnegie Mellon and MIT Sloan also rejected those who checked their decisions early, other schools did not act so rashly. Stanford, for example, is reevaluating each applicant in question, giving them a chance to explain themselves.
HBS, however, has left its rejected applicants indignant over its decision, with most voicing that the school overreacted without fully understanding the situation. Now, what seemed to be a lesson in business world ethics seems to have added to anti-Harvard sentiment.
“I would not attend that school now even if I was offered a full scholarship and a winning lottery ticket,” stated a rejected applicant in an interview with The New York Times. Another applicant, Verlin Henderson, made T-shirts with the inscription “Free the HBS 119,” and stated that three of the shirts had been sold as of Saturday.
To add to the feeling of discontentment, an applicant who agreed to speak to FM wrote in an e-mail that the security flaw in the application database allowed anyone to access the information simply by altering the URL to an available page or, in the applicant’s case, using a feature on the Firefox browser. According to the applicant, the desired information was accessed “with four mouse clicks.”
The applicant also noted that “all [other] schools had done their due diligence, determined that the notification function was flawed and decided not to use it. That is, all schools except HBS which to date is the only one that actually posted some decisions.”
“Almighty Harvard had been caught with the pants down,” the applicant writes, adding that in dubbing the applicants “hackers,” “the school disregarded all sense of tact and manners in favor of some artificial notion of moral supremacy… The overall attitude of the institution left a very bad taste in my mouth.”