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Following a semester of alarms, MIT steps up commencement security

Posted by Your Town  June 6, 2013 05:08 PM

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Following a semester filled with security incidents, MIT has announced that it will step up safety measures at graduation ceremonies Friday.

On Friday, more than 13,000 guests are anticipated to attend MIT’s commencement excersizes, according to a statement released by the university. MIT alumnus Drew Houston, the CEO and co-founder of Dropbox, will deliver the address.

“Commencement attendees should expect increased security measures for events on both Thursday and Friday,” the statement said.

MIT officials said in the statement that metal detectors will be at the commencement entrance. A number of items including backpacks, large bags, large objects, wrapped gifts, pocket knives, and all bottles will be prohibited. Security officials will be searching purses and diaper bags.

The statement also said that guests with electronic devices will be asked to turn them on “to demonstrate their use.” Attendees are also advised to bring a government-issued photo ID such as a driver’s license, state ID card, or passport.

The school’s announcement follows a semester of cybersecurity breaches, a hoax report of a gunman on campus, and the murder of an MIT police officer while he was on duty.

In the weeks after Internet activist Aaron Swartz committed suicide, the MIT Campus network was hacked at least three times, and Swartz was mentioned by name in a minimum of two of the attacks.

Swartz killed himself in January, following a two-year legal battle in which he faced a number of charges for hacking into the JSTOR archive system on the MIT network. He allegedly downloaded more than 4 million articles, some of which were behind a paywall. A number of Swartz’s supporters have blamed his death on MIT and the legal system.

In late February, the Globe reported that an unidentified caller falsely reported that a gunman was on the MIT campus. Several days after the hoax, an MIT official confirmed that the caller said the gunman was seeking revenge for Swartz’s suicide, and that the gunman planned to shoot the school’s president.

Then in a bizarre and tragic twist of events, the pair of brothers accused of carrying out the Boston Marathon bombings engaged in gunfire with police officials on MIT’s campus in April. While sitting in his cruiser, MIT Police officer Sean Collier, 26, was shot and killed.

Katherine Landergan can be reached at klandergan@globe.com. For campus news updates, follow her on Twitter @klandergan.

Looking for more coverage of area colleges and universities? Go to our Your Campus pages.

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