A Harvard Extension School student falsely assumed the identity of an undergraduate, a counselor at the Bureau of Study Counsel (BSC) discovered on Nov. 30.
An individual matching the imposter’s physical description also rushed Sigma Chi, an off-campus fraternity, and attempted to run for secretary of the Harvard Republican Club (HRC), according to members of both organizations. Because only administrative—not criminal—action will be taken against the imposter, Harvard University Police Department (HUPD) spokesperson Steven G. Catalano said the department would not release his name.
Christopher Queen, dean of students for continuing education, said he could not comment on the specific disciplinary action that will be taken against the student, but said that “the charge of misrepresentation is taken very seriously by the [Extension School’s Administrative] Board. Appropriate sanctions may include indefinite suspension from the Extension School.”
Craig F. Rodgers, a post-doctoral fellow and a BSC counselor, said he became suspicious when the contact information the student left belonged to another person.
“I got pretty concerned when [he] had accurate personal information [about the undergraduate]—enough to be disturbing,” said Rodgers, who kept the police on standby on Nov. 30, the day of the student’s appointment at the BSC, because of his suspicions.
A counselor at the BSC said that while police were confirming the student’s identity, the individual “fled the building through a window and descended three flights down an outdoor metal fire escape.”
Police detained the student as he attempted to leave the BSC, the counselor said.
Catalano said police interviewed but did not arrest the student.
A first-year said that the BSC and HUPD contacted him because the Extension School student used his name when the BSC counselor asked for the name of his roommate.
BSC Director Charles P. Ducey said that while BSC academic services are available to Extension School students who are undergraduate degree candidates, the suspect was not an undergraduate degree candidate and was therefore ineligible to receive BSC services.
“He was seeking help, but it was just not the right way to get it,” Ducey said.
While BSC services are protected by confidentiality, Ducey and Rodgers spoke publicly about theation—but not the private issues of the student, which remain confidential—because of concerns for other students’ safety, they said.
“We can’t take for granted who knows our information, like our ID number. If someone has your ID number and is convincing, there is a potential to get away with a lot,” Rodgers said.
The same individual had conducted “misrepresentation to a lesser extent” at the BSC in the past, Rodgers and Ducey said. They declined to comment further.
According to several Harvard undergraduates, an individual used false identification at places besides the BSC.