[ISN] Tuck considers apps from accused hackers

From: InfoSec News (isn@private)
Date: Tue Mar 29 2005 - 22:42:59 PST


By AnnMary Matthew
The Dartmouth Staff 
March 29, 2005 

Dartmouth's Tuck School of Business chose last week not to follow
Harvard Business School's lead in automatically denying admission to
applicants accused of hacking into an admissions processing website to
learn the decision on their applications early, Tuck Dean Paul Danos
said in a press release.

"The involvement in this incident was deemed a very important,
negative factor, but only one of many factors in our admissions
decisions," Danos said.

Dartmouth is one of over ten business schools that used an online
application system build by ApplyYourself.com. The website was
programmed such that an applicant could view his or her decision early
simply by manually navigating to a webpage containing a
system-supplied identification number.

A committee of Tuck faculty and staff examined the situation last week
after Harvard announced that it would be automatically rejecting all
applicants who had been found guilty of hacking into the website.  
Danos said he considered the committee's deliberations in arriving at
the final decision.

"We concluded that the actions did not reach the level that would
necessarily bar a person from being a valued member of the Tuck
community," Danos said.

Guilty applicants will be given an opportunity to explain their
actions in statements supplementing their application, and each case
will still be considered individually with the applicant's actions and
explanation considered as important factor. If a guilty applicant does
receive admission, he will be monitored and counseled while enrolled.  
Applicants who were not admitted will still be allowed to re-apply in
the future.

The decision sharply contrasted with Harvard's decision to
automatically reject the 119 applicants to its business school who had
accessed its website early. MIT's Sloan School of Management and
Carnegie Mellon's Tepper School of Business followed suit with similar
decisions. Stanford, on the other hand, chose a course of action
similar to that announced by Danos, calling on applicants who
exploited the software loophole to come forward and explain their

Harvard Business School Dean Kim Clark called the applicants' actions
"a serious breach of trust that cannot be countered by
rationalization," especially at a time when a myriad of corporate
scandals have called the integrity of those at the top of the business
world into question.

But others have accused Harvard of ethical grandstanding and maintain
that automatic rejection is far too harsh for the crime committed.

"Trying to maintain proportionality between transgressions and
consequences was a strong guiding principle," Danos said of Tuck's

The controversy brings forward a question that is only beginning to be
asked: whether someone who does something wrong while sitting in front
of a computer should face the same consequences as someone who does
something wrong in real life. For Harvard and the other schools that
made similar decisions, the answer is an unambiguous yes.

"To us, an ethical breach is an ethical breach whether it happens
digitally or in the real world," Clark told the New York Times.

An MIT Sloan School dean told the Washington Post that the applicants'
actions were like breaking into an admissions office at night to see
how his or her application fared.

Instructions for hacking into ApplyYourself were posted on a
BusinessWeek message board in early March. Most business schools'
decisions are scheduled to go out around March 30.

The poster, who called himself "brookbond" wrote, "I know everyone is
getting more and more anxious to check status of their apps to
[Harvard Business School]ůso I looked around their site and found a

Some believe that the procedure doesn't even pass the bar for what
would be considered "hacking" while others maintain that it would
become evident to anyone going through the steps that they were doing
something wrong.

But one of the business-savvy applicants who was rejected from Harvard
has tried to create business success from educational and ethical
failure. He is selling shirts featuring the slogan "Ethical,
Shmethical: save the HBS 119."

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