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Harvard bomb threat: No laughing matter

Final exams are stressful, even for the best of students — even, it seems, for students at an institution where the average grade is A-minus. But most stressed-out kids struggle through without staging an elaborate bomb hoax to avoid taking a test. That cannot be said for Harvard undergraduate Eldo Kim, who authorities say has admitted to a bomb threat that threw the entire campus into chaos and led to the postponement of several exams.

The bomb threat has elicited chuckles in some quarters. It seems jarring partly because of the university’s august image, and partly in light of recent news about its easy grading. There are other students who have brought discredit on Harvard in recent years — Abe Liu, the 27-year-old imposter who posed as a freshman for two months, and Adam Wheeler, whose impressive application to the university turned out to have been faked. But the offense of which Kim is accused was far worse. He deserves to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

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According to an FBI affidavit, the 20-year-old Kim sent e-mails from a temporary encrypted account to Harvard police, two university officials, and the president of the student newspaper, alleging that bombs had been placed in two of four buildings — leading to the evacuation of large sections of campus. Harvard officials connected Kim to the e-mails when they concluded that he had accessed the encryption software through the university’s Wi-Fi network. He confessed shortly after, was arraigned on federal charges, and is currently out on bail.

Generations of students have joked about calling in bomb threats to get out of exams. But Kim’s offense, which caused real fears and disrupted the plans of thousands of people, shouldn’t be laughed off.

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