Keeping Track will appear from time to time in The Crimson with short items about Harvard and Cambridge. Comments and suggestions are welcomed.
"Operator, could you bill this call to...Burt Reynolds?
Though the well-known actor says he doesn't know how it started, people across the country, including some at Harvard, have reportedly billed at least $110,000 in long-distance telephone calls to a credit card number allegedly belonging to Reynolds.
The calls started about two months ago, apparently in response to rumors that Reynolds had placed ads in newspapers saying he had won a free credit card for a month in an out-of-court settlement with the American Telephone and Telegraph Company.
However, the number (618-668-4038-5471) actually belongs to the Wabash Telephone Cooperative in Louisville, III, (which is presumably not happy about the whole thing). Chuck Reardon, a spokesman for New England Telephone, said calls billed to the number were fraudulent and callers are liable under state and federal "Fraud by wire" laws. But the phone company, he said, is "mainly interested in getting money back, not arresting people," and is trying to trace the calls.
"It was fun while it lasted," said one Harvard student who acknowledged making six long-distance calls on the credit card to Illinois, Pennsylvania and New York. The student, Gilad Ohana '85, said he had thought the number was legitimate at the time he made the estimated $30-$40 in calls.
Added Ohana, who has not been contacted by authorities: "It brought people much closer as the phone company always seems to advertise."
David Riesman '31, Ford Professor of Social Sciences Emeritus, this week attempted to clarify his position on an ongoing controversy at Amherst College over affirmative action.
The controversy arose this summer when a white Amherst alumnus endowed a chair in the natural sciences with the stipulation that its first occupant be Black. The stipulation was condemned by several groups, including the Committee on Academic Non-Discrimination and Integrity (CANI).
Riesman's name became linked with the dispute when he was identified in a Boston Globe August 23 article as one of five noted scholars who are members of CANI.
On Monday, a letter from Riesman appeared in the Globe stating CANI had used his name without his consent, thereby exploiting it, and that he favored affirmative action policies for academic hiring that are applied "thoughtfully and with specific aim" on a case-by-case basis.
The proposal for a Black-occupied Theodore Cross Chair at Amherst should be seen. Riesman said, as "an inventive, perhaps one-of-a-kind effort to deal with the disparagement of blacks."
Meanwhile, the chairman of CANI, contacted in New York, could not explain how Riesman's name came to be used. "I am apologizing to Mr. Riesman, but not for the committee's stand," said the group's head. Miro Todorovich, a physics professor at Bronx Community College, who added that he planned to write a clarifying letter to the Globe.
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