Whopper of the Week: Princeton Admissions Dean Stephen LeMenager
"I was merely testing whether a burglar might squeeze his hand into this cookie jar."
"It was really an innocent way for us to check out the security. That was our main concern of having an online notification system, that it would be susceptible to people who had that information—parents, guidance counselors, and admissions officers at other schools."
—Stephen LeMenager, dean of admissions at Princeton, explaining to Elise Jordan and Arielle Levin Becker of the Yale Daily News why, in early April, his office hacked into the Yale admissions office computer system. Yale's admissions office had made acceptance decisions available to high-school students who preferred not to wait for notification by mail. Access was explicitly forbidden to anyone except the student in question, who could get the information by inputting his name, birth date, and Social Security number. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is now looking into whether the hacking incident violated federal law.
"Princeton admissions officials gained repeated, unauthorized access to the admissions decisions of 11[italics Chatterbox's] Yale applicants. … [A]n investigation found that the University's online notification Web site had been accessed 18 times[italics Chatterbox's] from computers at Princeton, including 14 times[italics Chatterbox's] from within the admissions office."
—Jordan and Becker in a Yale Daily News follow-up, July 26.
Discussion: It is possible that this really was a security check. If so, however, it was a remarkably thorough one. And why should Princeton care whether Yale's computers are secure?
Got a whopper? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. To be considered, an entry must be an unambiguously false statement paired with an unambiguous refutation, and both must be derived from some appropriately reliable public source. Preference will be given to newspapers and other documents that Chatterbox can link to online.
July 19, 2002: James Traficant
July 12, 2002: Maryland Lt. Gov. candidate Michael S. Steele
July 5, 2002: Hesham Mohamed Hadayet
June 28, 2002: WorldCom
June 21, 2002: Terry Lynn Barton
June 14, 2002: Tom Ridge
June 7, 2002: Former FBI Deputy Director Weldon Kennedy
May 31, 2002: Ari Fleischer
May 23, 2002: Condoleezza Rice
May 17, 2002: Robert Mueller
May 9, 2002: Karl Rove
May 3, 2002: Gen. Richard Myers
April 25, 2002: Donald Rumsfeld
April 18, 2002: George W. Bush
April 11, 2002: The Rev. Robert J. Banks, archdiocese of Boston
April 5, 2002: George W. Bush
March 29, 2002: Major League Baseball
March 21, 2002: Billy Graham
March 14, 2002: INS commissioner James W. Ziglar
March 8, 2002: Robert Zoellick and the U.S. steel industry
Feb. 28, 2002: Al Sharpton
Feb. 22, 2002: Olympic skating judge Marie-Reine Le Gougne
Feb. 14, 2002: Kenneth Lay
Feb. 8, 2002: Enron spokeswoman Peggy Mahoney
Jan. 31, 2002: Monsanto
Jan. 24, 2002: Linda Chavez
Jan. 17, 2002: George W. Bush
Jan. 10, 2002: Simon & Schuster
Jan. 4, 2002: The Associated Press
(Click here to access the Whopper Archive for 2001.)
Timothy Noah is a former Slate staffer. His book about income inequality is The Great Divergence.