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BU Chinese students run for Lu Lingzi

April 14, 2014 05:28 PM

By Chen Tong
Boston University News Service

Every day after class, Baiyun Yao, a doctoral student at Boston University, goes to the campus gym for a serious workout. She jogs on the indoor track or rides a stationary bike in preparation for her first marathon.

Yao has attended the Boston Marathon twice — as a volunteer and as part of the crowd. But this year she will attend as a runner in honor of Lu Lingzi, the Chinese student who died in the marathon bombing last April.

“I want to finish the journey Lingzi didn’t finish,” said Yao.

Yao has much in common with Lu. Like Lu, Yao is from China and came to BU in her 20s. She is passionate about sports. Even though Yao didn’t know Lu, she feels a connection to her slain classmate, so she decided to train for the 2014 Boston Marathon.

Other Chinese students also plan honoring Lu at an April 14 memorial service at Marsh Chapel organized by the Chinese Students and Scholars Association at BU (BUCSSA).

See video with this story.

Last April, Yao was on the sidelines, cheering on her friends as they ran by. Most finished the marathon in three hours, she said. So, when the two bombs exploded, they had already gone home.

“I felt so lucky… when I heard the news,” said Yao. Soon after the blast, emails and messages started arriving from her family and friends. It was not until two days later she learned a Chinese classmate had died in the bombing.

“It was such a sad story,” said Yao. “I was so shocked about Lingzi’s death.”

This February, right after the Chinese New Year, Yao learned that the Boston Athletic Association had given Lu’s family the option to choose seven athletes to run the race. The Lus decided to choose Boston University students. Yao thought about it for a few days, applied, and was chosen.

Yao said she relates to Lu because she knows what it is like to travel all the way from China to the United States.

“Chinese community at BU is like a big family. We will help Lingzi to finish her dream,” said Yao.

She also wants to send a message to the terrorists: “Whatever happened can only make us stronger than ever before. We are gonna fight this together.”

Yao is ready for the race, but she is not the only member of the Chinese community who wants to run for Lu. Among the seven runners, three are Chinese students.

Yue Wang is a junior who is pursuing a dual bachelor degree in economics and finance. Like Yao, this year will be Wang’s first marathon as a racer. Wang said Lingzi’s death has become her motivation to reach the finish line.

“Lingzi carries so many similar characteristics with all of us — international students coming all the way from China and nation builders when returning home,” said Wang.

Being the only child in the family, Wang’s parents are concerned about her ability to run more than 20 miles. “But they feel proud of me for taking on this honorary commitment,” said Wang.

The money raised by the seven runners will go to the Lu Lingzi Scholarship Fund, which was created by Boston University shortly after the bombing. The scholarship will provide support to outstanding graduate students from China who want to come to BU. The fund now exceeds $1 million and the donations are still coming, according to the university news service, BU Today.

The memorial ceremony at Marsh Chapel will feature a giant paper crane, a Chinese symbol of remembrance, said group spokesman Zhixiu Jin.

“We would like BU students to write down their notes on this giant paper,” said Jin. “Let it fly to the heaven and tell Lingzi how much we miss her.”

BUCSSA plans to put the paper crane in front of Marsh Chapel.

“We are one community,” said Jin. “We will make our promise to move on with her spirit.”

Urban honeybees' winter struggles and triumphs

April 1, 2014 03:54 PM


Diana J. Campbell

Sadie Richards observes the vertical slats from her beehive. They are covered in honey, combs, and part of the dead colony of bees.

In February, Sadie Richards decided to inspect her hives for the first time since November. Standing in Jamaica Plain’s snow-covered Leland Street Herb Garden, Richards opened both of her hives to find blackened piles of dead bees. Nearby, her friend’s hives had also died.

The collapses weren’t caused by the cold. Bee clusters keep their hives between 80 to 90 degrees all winter by vibrating their wings. Instead, Richards sadly took samples as she explained that nosema, a common honeybee disease, probably killed the bees.

“This is the biggest trouble as new beekeepers,” said Waylon Brown, Richards’ husband. “Just establishing the new hive and getting them through the first year.”

Despite the difficulties of keeping healthy bee colonies, urban beekeeping is becoming popular from coast to coast. New York legalized urban beekeeping in 2010, and the Los Angeles City Council has considered lifting a ban on beekeeping.

Boston has no such ban, which has allowed apiaries to flourish around the city, including on the roofs of several major hotels, like Fairmont Copley Plaza and InterContinental Boston. The InterContinental uses the honey it harvests at its restaurant, for cocktails and at its spa.

Although Richards’ experience is an example of the many Boston beehives that struggle to survive over winter, urban bees generally have a higher winter survival rate than hives in the country, said Noah Wilson-Rich, of The Best Bees Company. And, they produce more honey on average than rural bees. Among numerous hypotheses for why this might be, most urban beekeepers, including Wilson-Rich, agree that a lack of pesticides and a more diverse range of flora in urban areas give city bees an edge over rural bees.

The Best Bees Company sets up and manages about 200 beehives at homes and businesses throughout New England. Most notably, the company manages seven beehives for InterContinental Boston, four at both Four Seasons Boston and The Taj Boston, three at both Fairmont Copley Plaza and Fairmont Battery Wharf, and one at The Liberty Hotel. Wilson-Rich said that many larger chains like InterContinental and Fairmont set blanket requirements to have bees in rooftop gardens as one way to promote sustainability.

Wilson-Rich said bees are important to society for three main reasons: robust agriculture, scientific research and economic stability. Bees contribute over $15 billion to the US economy annually through their role as pollinators to crops, he said. The US Department of Agriculture estimates that one-third of all food and drinks rely on pollination. As a result, the declining number of bees could cause price increases for 130 types of crops, Wilson-Rich said.

“Anyone who eats food, like fruits and veggies should find bees important,” said Wilson-Rich. “And anyone who doesn’t like fruits and veggies, but likes cattle needs to care about the alfalfa and the hay for that cattle.”

He says that people should help strengthen the honeybee population, particularly by developing it in urban areas where bees thrive more in winter. However, despite threats of viruses, pests, mysterious colony-collapse disorder, and drastic fits of cold, humans create urban bees’ greatest opposition.

“Honeybees have a bad public relations challenge,” said Wilson-Rich. “The benefits outweigh any costs from the very rare human systemic reaction … we need them for healthy and affordable food.”

Despite bees’ bad images, beekeeping is still becoming more popular in cities. So popular in fact, that although it is not on the market, Philips has even designed a glass pod indoor beehive as a “far-future design concept” that would allow beekeeping at home. The pod would have a tube that leads to the outdoors to allow bees to continue pollinating.

In addition to homes and hotels, apiaries are proliferating on urban campuses too. In Boston, both Harvard University and Boston University have formed beekeepers associations within the last three years.

“It’s a little sexy to keep bees,” said Brendan Hathaway, president of the Boston University Beekeepers Club.

The club set up its first hive three years ago on the banks of the Charles River, near the BU boathouse. They now have two hives and have proven that bee swarms could be tamed. At BU 2012’s graduation ceremony across the river on Nickerson Field, a swarm of honeybees covering a chair caused panic. The BU Beekeepers calmly moved the swarm into a box until the hive could be integrated with one of the two Charles River hives, where the colony still exists.

“I was initially scared of bees, but now I’m not all that terrified,” said Hathaway about his transformation since joining the BU Beekeepers four years ago. “I have a greater respect for life and how cool it is that this all happens.”

This article is being published under an arrangement between the Globe and Boston University.

BU to explore ways to boost cybersecurity following Internet scam that stole employee paychecks

February 28, 2014 01:06 PM

Boston University announced Friday it is exploring ways to increase cybersecurity measures in the wake of a recent Internet scam that stole paychecks from university employees.

“We must strengthen our technological means to help protect our information in order to forestall these kinds of attacks and limit exposure if they succeed,” university President Robert A. Brown wrote in a letter to the campus community, according to the university-run news website BU Today.

“We have focused on sound policy, user education, and detective controls to secure information,” Brown wrote. “While this approach has supported creativity and productivity, it now increasingly places us at risk—particularly in comparison to less open organizations. Cyber-criminals choose softer targets, as we have just experienced.”

A team of university experts will search for ways to “strengthen technical protections against exposure, theft, or loss of personal information,” Brown said.

The group, which has already begun discussions, expects to report its first set of recommendations back to Brown this spring. The university’s administrative council and deans council will review that feedback before implementation.

In December, an internet scammer or scammers allegedly stole monthly paychecks from 10 BU employees by somehow obtaining the workers’ usernames and passwords and changing their direct deposit information.

Another 68 university employees had work-related accounts accessed by an outside device using suspicious Internet protocol addresses, but officials have said they do not believe sensitive information was accessed from those workers.

Campus officials have said the FBI was investigating the case along with similar cases reported recently at several other universities.

Authorities said they believe the BU employees’ private log-in information was stolen through phishing, a common scamming technique in which people are lured in by fraudulent, but real- and trustworthy-looking emails, links or websites and then unsuspectingly give up personal information.

Tracy Schroeder, BU’s vice president for information services and technology and one of the experts tasked with finding ways to improve the school’s cybersecurity, said an investigation of the December incident has revealed that the university needs to create more secure ways for access to BUworks, a portal used to manage payroll and other administrative tasks.

“We know from industry best practices that you can’t change your banking information now without a second factor [such as a phone or computer] for authentication,” Schroeder told BU Today.

Such a system would ask employees for not only their password, but also for information about a second device, if they were trying to log in from a phone or computer that they don’t normally use.

For example, an employee trying to access their account from a computer or phone they haven’t used before, might be asked to verify their identity by having a special code sent to their phone or email.

Schroeder said having a two-step verification process to log in is “the best way that we can protect folks’ personal information and not be basically just protecting against the last exploit that we got hit with.”

Matt Rocheleau can be reached at Looking for more coverage of area colleges and universities? Go to our Your Campus pages.

Muslims, non-Muslims weigh challenges of Millennial Generation

February 28, 2014 12:06 PM

In a brightly lit room, a group of about 80 people from Northeastern University and the surrounding Fenway neighborhood listened attentively to three young Muslim professionals talk about their personal struggles and failures during an event hosted by the Islamic Society of Northeastern University.

The panel discussion was titled Refugee Camps, Typewriters, and Make-Up: The Millennial Muslim. It featured Wajahat Ali, a television host/anchor in Al Jazeera’s The Stream, a show devoted to community and civic journalism. Dr. Sarah Kureshi, a physician and human rights advocate for refugee and minority groups focusing on public health issues, and Haroon Moghul, a columnist and writer for various online publications including Al Arabiya News, an Arab news site, also joined the discussion.

“We wanted to bring in speakers that people could relate to,” said Tala Alghusain, co-president of the Islamic Society of Northeastern. “Whether they were human rights activists or whether they were working with Al Jazeera or Al Arabiya, we just wanted people who did represent Islam, but also that represented politics in the Middle East.”

The 2 ½ hour meeting directed itself toward identifying the millennial Muslim and the challenges this generation must deal with in defining their identity as individuals and as Muslims.

“I think they really helped us understand that we can open up to each other,” said Alghusain.

Wajahat Ali, the first speaker, set the mood by revealing his personal struggles after graduating from college. He talked about how he had to embrace failure to find his passion in writing.

Ali talked about how his childhood as an oddball and sick child set him up for the challenges in his late 20s. Ali spoke how at 26, he found himself with a failed law career, five dollars in his pocket, and a family to care for as his parents had gone bankrupt. He stressed the internal conflict he faced at defying the prescribed guidelines of success – which included becoming a doctor and finding a wife by age 30- that had been passed down generation after generation in his family in order to do what he wanted to do.

“Had it not been for my acceptance that I was a failure, and that I would have to chart my own path,” said Ali, “I don’t think I would have embraced my definition of success.”

Ali’s main point was to encourage the millennial generation to figure out their own definitions of success, and to stray from the idea that success is defined by the occupation, wealth or culture you come from.

Dr. Sarah Kureshi followed, focusing on how she became involved with refugee camps and human rights. Kureshi talked about how she chose medicine as her career because it served as the perfect medium to combine her skills and passions, rather than to become a doctor for the name or respect it would bring. Kureshi said that as a teenager in a small town in Florida, she faced discrimination from professors, and was only treated with respect when they realized she was the daughter of a well-known doctor. She said that those experiences disgusted her, and made her want to break free of labels.

¨I wasn´t interested in any of those labels,¨ said Kureshi. ¨I wanted to do thing I wanted to do because I was passionate it about them and not because it pleased other people.¨

Kureshi told about how her first experience with refugees in Burma gave her a purpose, and she discovered her path through public health and community service. Kureshi´s main message was to urge the millennial generation to explore their skills and then to apply them to help the community.

Haroon Moghul continued the conversation by talking about his biggest fear and the importance of understanding your fears. Moghul told how his first girlfriend made him realize that his greatest fear was how unstable life was. However, Moghul said that his love for writing and his career as a writer made him overcome this fear.

As the discussion proceeded, the concept of a professional Muslim - which refers to a trend in Muslims who grew up during 9/11 to create an identity as advocates for the positive and human side of Islam - was popular. Moghul stated that in the process of becoming a professional Muslim many people in this generation had lost track of themselves as individuals.

¨We have lost sight of the human being,¨ said Moghul,¨ and we are forced by our communities to be a cardboard perfect cut-out of a Muslim.¨

Ali and Kureshi said that the millennial generation had to move away from this idea of presenting themselves as perfect. Instead, they encouraged them to accept the imperfections in their culture, attitudes, and to some extent religious ideas.

¨I think the next phase of being a professional Muslim is for our generation to push things forward, ¨ said Ali, ¨and really addressing the human component of being an individual who happens to be a Muslim.¨

Some of the other topics discussed during the meeting included:

  • The role of women in Islam

  • The concept of atheism

  • The flexibility of the Qur'an

  • Political conflicts in Egypt and Turkey

Some who attended the talk said they found it enlightening and different from the usual Muslim-oriented events, which according to Anika Alam are often formal and serious. Alam, a pharmacy student at Northeastern, said she had looked forward to the talk because it featured Muslim professionals who had faced the challenge of balancing their religion, culture and profession.

¨They promote the human experience," said Alam about the talk. ¨They show us that whatever religion we are, whether Muslim, Catholic, Jewish or Buddhist, we are all human, we all struggle together.¨

Joshua Frank, who was one of the few non-Muslim attendees and is Jewish, agreed with Alam. Frank said that he enjoyed the humanity and connectivity that the speakers displayed.

¨I think they just enable people to understand that communities are very similar,¨ said Frank, ¨and that is a beautiful thing.¨

The event, organized by the Islamic Society of Northeastern University, is part of a larger series called Islam 360° that aims to cover Islam from different angles outside religion.

This article is being published under an arrangement between the Boston Globe and the Boston University News Service.

BU to host top financial industry officials at symposium next month

February 18, 2014 01:33 PM

Top public and private financial industry officials plan to visit Boston next month for a day-long symposium celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the national banking system, according to Boston University officials who will host the conference.

Comptroller of the Currency Thomas J. Curry will deliver a keynote address at the gathering at the Hynes Convention Center on March 31, while other speakers will talk about “the current state of domestic and international banking in the context of recent and historical events.”

Among those scheduled to attend are:

  • Sheila Bair, former chair of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC)
  • Sharon Bowles, chair of the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee of the European Parliament
  • Christopher Dodd, former U.S. Senator and chair of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs
  • Camden Fine, president of the Independent Community Bankers of America
  • Barney Frank, former U.S. Congressman and chair of the House Financial Services Committee
  • Thomas Hoenig, vice chair of the FDIC
  • Cornelius Hurley, professor and director of Boston University’s Center for Finance, Law, & Policy
  • Raymond Natter, partner at Washington, D.C. law firm Barnett, Sivon & Natter, P.C. and former deputy chief counsel at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency
  • Timothy Pawlenty, former Minnesota Governor and president of The Financial Services Roundtable
  • John Reed, former chair of Citicorp
  • Paul Volcker, former chair of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System

“With the financial crisis still fresh in our memory, the 150th anniversary of President Lincoln’s National Bank Act is an opportune time to bring together some of the industry’s most thoughtful leaders to reflect on the industry’s past and to consider its future,” said a statement from Curry.

BU’s Center for Finance, Law & Policy will host the symposium.

“Specific topics will include a discussion of the state of the dual banking system, preemption in the wake of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010, a view on banking from Europe, a discussion of the Volcker Rule by Mr. Volcker, a discussion on banking reform with Senator Dodd and Congressman Frank, the future of universal banking, a dialogue on Too Big to Fail, the future of banking in light of globalization and emerging alternatives to traditional banks,” the university said.

Breakfast and registration will start at 7 a.m. and the symposium will run through 5 p.m. For more details and to register, click here.

Matt Rocheleau can be reached at Looking for more coverage of area colleges and universities? Go to our Your Campus pages.

Filmmakers seek additional crowdfunding for documentary on BU wrestling's final season

February 14, 2014 04:01 PM

("It Hurts to Win" filmmakers / Vimeo)

A new trailer for the film released this week.

A group of filmmakers hopes to raise $30,000 through online crowdfunding to finish a feature-length documentary about what is scheduled to be the final season for the Boston University men’s wrestling, a 45-year-old program fighting for survival.

Filming for “It Hurts to Win” began at the start of the wrestling season this past fall.

Using a few outside donations and about $8,500 in money raised online before they embarked, the filmmakers have – with head coach Carl Adams’ blessing – followed the Division 1 team as they trained at BU, competed in home and away matches and as the team and its supporters have pushed to save the program.

But, the group, which released a new trailer for the film this week, said on their online fundraising page that they need more funding to finish production work “in order to make sure this story is told exactly the way we want it to be, and the way that it deserves to be.”

“This is an emotional story of loss, brotherhood, and perseverance in the face of adversity,” the group wrote on their crowdfunding page on

The university announced on April Fool’s Day last year that wrestling will end at the conclusion of the current 2013-14 season. The announcement stunned coaches, athletes, incoming recruits, alumni and fans of the program. Supporters have rallied around the team this season and continue to urge the university to keep the program.

“Our goal is that the audience will leave this film with a better understanding of who is affected when a collegiate athletics program is cut, and the emotional toll it takes on all of the individuals involved,” the filmmakers said on their fundraising page. “Especially with a sport like wrestling, the loss of a program is much more than a small brief in the sports section; it’s the loss of a passion.”

The documentary is being directed by Brandon Lavoie, a film student at Emerson College, and Michael Abelson, a recent University of Rhode Island graduate and lifelong wrestling fan who has reported on local sports.

Brady Darragh, a post production major at Emerson, will help edit the film, and Fernando Martinez, a New York-based composer, will add music and sounds to go along with the footage.

The group said they have no affiliation to BU, its athletics department or the wrestling program.

“The money we raise for this will strictly go towards finishing the project,” they said. “We are simply trying to tell this story as well as we possibly can for the team, for the coaches, and ultimately, for everyone who wants to listen.”

Matt Rocheleau can be reached at Looking for more coverage of area colleges and universities? Go to our Your Campus pages.

BU police to add alcohol enforcement patrols after spike in student hospitalizations for intoxication

February 14, 2014 01:27 PM

Boston University Police said they plan to increase alcohol enforcement patrols earlier in the semester than usual after recent a spike in student hospitalizations for acute intoxication.

Compared to the fall semester, the number of alcohol-related hospitalizations among BU students is up 7 percent so far this semester, including 11 students who were hospitalized for acute intoxication in the past week, campus officials told the university’s news website BU Today.

BU Police Captain Robert Molloy said that the department does not normally deploy additional alcohol enforcement patrols at this time of year. Extra patrols are usually only sent out during the fall and in the warmer parts of spring.

But he said the numbers so far this semester are concerning enough to prompt action.

Starting this weekend, campus officers, some who will be in plainclothes, will patrol around and near campus, Molloy told BU Today. The crackdown on alcohol-related violations will continue “until further notice.”

And he said police departments in Boston and Brookline have been notified about the rise in alcohol-related hospitalizations.

Of the 11 students hospitalized this past week, nine were transported early on Saturday and Sunday, officials said. Five of the 11 were under the legal drinking age and three of the 11 were freshmen.

Police said they are not sure why the numbers were so high this past weekend. One student who was transported told police he attended a party at a fraternity in Allston, but did not tell police which fraternity, according to Molloy.

BU said it has seen student alcohol-related hospital runs, as well as alcohol violations, drop in recent years.

During the 2010-11 academic year, 248 alcohol-related hospitalizations were reported, campus officials said. The following year, the figure dropped to 211 and then to 158 in the previous academic year.

During this past fall semester, there were 90 hospitalizations for intoxication, which was about a half dozen more than the prior fall, officials said.

BU has attributed the overall decline in alcohol-related hospitalizations and violations to new enforcement measures the university adopted three years ago. Modeled on a plan that is credited with reducing off-campus intoxication at the University of California, the effort includes increasing police patrols in party neighborhoods, breaking up loud and disorderly parties, arresting or citing lawbreakers, and posting enforcement statistics on the university’s website.

The university said it also began requiring first-year students to take an online alcohol education course.

Matt Rocheleau can be reached at Looking for more coverage of area colleges and universities? Go to our Your Campus pages.

Group trying to save BU men's wrestling program seeks New Balance boycott

February 5, 2014 02:31 PM

A group trying to save men’s wrestling at Boston University is launching a campaign to boycott New Balance because some wrestling supporters believe the local athletic apparel and supplies company played a role in the school’s decision to end the 45-year-old program.

Officials from both the university and from New Balance have denied the group’s assertions.

A Facebook page for the group “Boycott New Balance” had more than 2,000 “Likes” as of Tuesday night. The page was created three weeks ago by members of the “Save BU Wrestling” group, which on another Facebook page has collected more than 7,500 “Likes.”

“The wrestling community is extremely concerned that New Balance corporate profits are being invested in causes that lead to the elimination of wrestling programs,” the page says. “We believe the wrestling community should not, for the foreseeable future, purchase any products from a company that uses our hard earned money to attack the sport of wrestling. It is a matter of survival.”

The page also asks supporters to email their concerns to several top New Balance officials, including company chairman James Davis and president and CEO Robert DeMartini.

In 2012, New Balance donated $3 million to build “New Balance Field” at BU, an athletic facility that opened this past fall and is primarily used for women’s field hockey. When the university announced plans to build the $24 million complex, it also announced plans to add two sports: men's varsity lacrosse and women’s lightweight rowing.

Members of the “Save BU Wrestling” group have said they believe that the donation, the new field, the new sports programs, as well as Title IX compliance led BU decide to get rid of the men’s wrestling program.

BU spokesman Colin Riley has told the Globe “there’s absolutely no correlation.”

“It’s obviously as painful for these individuals as it is for us,” he said recently. “Obviously, we are respectful of their views but there’s no merit to their allegations.”

New Balance spokeswoman Amy Dow sent a statement to the Globe this week.

"We recognize that this is a challenging time for BU's wrestling community,” Dow said in an email. “There was, and is, no connection between New Balance and the university's decision on wrestling. New Balance supports athletics at all levels of participation and for all ages. All decisions to add or drop sports from a program rest entirely with Boston University."

The Globe has reported that a former BU wrestler recently wrote a letter of concern to New Balance and received an emailed reply from company president emeritus and advisor John E. Larsen: “Sounds like some unintended consequences occurred here. Having said that, decisions to add or drop sports from a program rest entirely with the school.”

The university announced on April Fool’s Day last year that wrestling will end at the conclusion of the current 2013-14 season.

The announcement stunned coaches, athletes, incoming recruits, alumni and fans of the Division 1 program. Supporters have rallied around the team this season and continue to urge the university to keep the program.

Matt Rocheleau can be reached at Looking for more coverage of area colleges and universities? Go to our Your Campus pages.

Uber Boston announces competition between colleges for free week of rides

February 4, 2014 02:46 PM

With the spring semester in full swing and more cold weather fast approaching, Uber Boston announced a promotion Tuesday that will allow an entire college campus a free week of uberX.

The car-for-hire app is offering the free week to Boston University, Boston College, Harvard University, and Northeastern University students who get 1,500 people to sign up for Uber using their own campus code.

"This is extremely relevant for the new semester and the frigid weather we are having," said Meghan Verena Joyce, general manager of Uber Boston and Providence. "Students are looking to go out at night, reconnect with classmates, and start their internships. We just want to offer students an affordable, easy, and safe way to get around and thought this would be a great opportunity to start things off with a bang."

Students have until Tuesday, Feb. 11 at 11:59 p.m. to have their friends, family, and colleagues sign-up using their specific college code. With the promo code, new users will receive $20 off their first ride for uberX and the opportunity to win the free week.

The participating schools' promo codes are the following:

  • Boston University: BosuberXtraCredit1

  • Boston College: BosuberXtraCredit2

  • Northeastern University: BosuberXtraCredit3

  • Harvard University: BosuberXtraCredit4

Joyce said Uber timed the promotion to align with the 62nd annual Beanpot Hockey Tournament.

"It also happens to be the week of the Beanpot and while the players are competing on the ice, we thought the schools could compete and try uberX to win some rides."

While the school who reaches 1,500 people first will win all the fame and glory, Joyce said all the schools have the opportunity to win a free week of uberX if they get all the necessary people by Feb. 12.

"We are just incredibly excited to introduce ourselves to college students and to have them and their friends join together and rally for their school," Joyce said. "It really is an affordable way to get around the city of Boston and it opens up the city to the students. It gives them the option to get around and to safely do it. We are excited to see how this contest goes."

The discount is not valid for uberTAXI and students who already are an Uber user should encourage their friends to download the app, she said.

"Both new and existing riders will get a free ride of uberX if they get all 1,500 people and if I were an existing rider, I would sign up my fellow classmates and post on Facebook to get as many sign ups with my schools promo code," said Joyce.

According to the Uber blog, students who aren't new to the service have a number of ways to get the word out to the rest of their campus.

Here are some ideas to make things easy:

  • Share the signup code with your dance squad, newspaper staff, lacrosse bros, or Quidditch crew.

  • Tell your RA and TA. Tell your librarian. Get your favorite dining hall lady to get on board.

  • Pitch yourself a tent in the quad and recruit random passersby. Bonus points for tourists sporting your school's sweatshirts.

  • You can share the code with anybody you'd like; as long as they are new to Uber, it will count towards your goal.

Kyle Plantz can be reached at Find him on Twitter at @kylejplantz.

BU student grabbed, struck by man wearing ski mask during apparent robbery attempt

February 3, 2014 05:47 PM

A female Boston University student was grabbed and struck in the face by a man wearing a ski mask and gloves who came up behind her Sunday night while she was walking along a Brookline street near campus, school officials said.

The alleged attack, while police described as an attempted robbery, happened on Amory Street at about 10 p.m. Sunday, according to the university’s news website BU Today.

The suspect did not appear to be armed, authorities said.

The man attacked the student after he got out of a light-colored Honda Pilot SUV with a dent on the driver’s side that was parked behind where she was walking, officials said. She screamed, which got the attention of dog walkers in Knyvet Park and prompted the assailant to run away.

The SUV the man was in just before the attack then drove past the student and parked around the corner on Thatcher Street, officials said. The man ran to the vehicle and got into the front passenger seat.

Nothing was stolen during the attack.

The man was described as being about 5 feet, 8 inches tall and having a medium build. He was wearing baggy blue jeans, a black hooded sweatshirt with the hood up and gloves, officials said.

The case is being investigated by the Brookline Police Department and the BU Police Department, which plans to add extra patrols in that area over the next few nights.

Anyone with information about the case is asked to contact either Brookline Police at (617) 730-2222 or the Boston University Police at 617-353-2121, officials said.

Police advised students to: be aware of their surroundings; not wear headphones or talk or text on a cell phone at night; avoid walking alone; avoid poorly lit areas; and, at the first sign of trouble, to dial 911 or BU Police at 617-353-2121.

Matt Rocheleau can be reached at Looking for more coverage of area colleges and universities? Go to our Your Campus pages.

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