When I started my sophomore year at Harvard, I was both excited and hopeful. I knew that I would eventually gripe and grumble over the hectic nights of studying and work. But I eagerly looked forward to spending time with my friends and pursuing my academic interests. I never would have imagined that, at the end of the semester, I would be seeing my face plastered across the front pages of the news.
In several weeks, it will have been a year since I emailed false bomb threats during my final exams. Looking back, I can only cringe at my sheer stupidity and immaturity. I do not wish to attempt to make any excuses for I have none or shy away from accepting full responsibility. What I do wish to do is apologize.
While my apology extends to all those who were negatively affected by my behavior, I would like to particularly apologize to the citizens of Cambridge, the community of Harvard and the first responders and law enforcement officials.
In a way, I was so ridiculously egocentric. As I got closer to my last exam, I felt that I was under a huge amount of personal and academic pressure. I had been sleep-deprived for days and was not thinking clearly. I could have gone to bed, sought help or just simply taken an exam I felt unprepared for. Instead, in the face of this anxiety and stress and blinded by the light of my ambitions, I lost sight of logic and reason. I absurdly acted in a way that put my personal priorities over the well-being of everyone else.
By doing so, I set off a wave of mortifying consequences. I drained and diverted taxes and public resources. I hope to help defray some of those costs through restitution but am aware that it is a limited gesture. Even more importantly, law enforcement officers and first responders have far more significant responsibilities than to be burdened by a foolish hoax. I disrupted the schedules of so many of my peers and caused them unwarranted stress and confusion. Stress is a universal ingredient found in the weeks of final exams in college. To think that my troubles were any greater than those of my peers was a lapse in judgment and showed an inexplicable lack of empathy. I am deeply saddened that I have blemished and embarrassed my school and classmates in the spotlight of the media. I betrayed the very community that I had intimately become a part of and come to love. I also realize that I upset the community of Cambridge by causing concern. In the light of last year’s Boston Marathon tragedy, my actions were even more grossly inappropriate.
With the gracious support of friends, family and classmates, I have used this past year to deeply reflect and to consider the relevant circumstances and my personal failures. I would give anything to turn back the hands of time. But given that I cannot, I can only look to the future. I fully recognize that this letter of apology can only mean so much. I know that true apology and hopefully forgiveness will come from my contributions and actions over time. I have been intensively engaged in counseling, community service, and work. I have always made an effort to give back to the community through service and projects and have been doing so even more actively since this incident. I am incredibly fortunate to have been given an opportunity to learn from my mistakes and move on. I would be a fool to waste it.
To those students who are struggling, I can say that I only now realize how the actions of a single thoughtless moment can be absolutely devastating. As a student, it is so easy to lose perspective and to ignore the warning signs of excessive stress as you begin to think that there is nothing more important than a particular paper or exam. If you are struggling, I urge you to get help. I was much too timid to ask for help when I most needed it. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness or one of defeat. Letting emotional and mental stress escalate and bubble beneath the surface drives one to desperation and is extremely dangerous. There are so many people and a diverse range of resources ready to help if only we have the courage to open up and reach out.
I deeply regret my conduct and apologize profusely for the harm that I caused. I am truly appreciative of the support I have gotten from the Harvard community and am grateful to those that have helped resolve this in a way that leaves me a path to the life I want for my family and myself. I have learned many hard lessons over the past year – about remorse, gratitude, friendship, ambition, and second chances. I hope that my experience will be a cautionary tale for all. Looking towards the immediate future, I will have to face the consequences for my actions, including home confinement, community service, probation, restitution and a fine. Beyond that, I will continue to carry on the lessons I have learned about pressure, stress, perspective and selfishness. But perhaps most importantly, I will be committed to becoming a better person and a more selfless member of this community.
Eldo Kim, formerly a member of the Class of 2016, is a student at the College, currently on leave. He agreed to make a public apology in connection with resolving his pending criminal case.