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Number of Students Taking Make-Up Exams Triples After Bomb Threat Incident

By Meg P. Bernhard, Crimson Staff Writer

Nearly two months after the bomb scare that sent law enforcement officials flocking to campus, the College plans to hold make-up tests this week for students whose exams were disrupted by the incident in the fall. According to Faculty of Arts and Sciences Registrar Michael P. Burke, 168 students—including those whose exams were not affected by the bomb threat—will be taking make-up exams this semester, nearly three times as many those in the spring of 2013.

At 8:40 a.m. on Dec. 16, the Harvard University Police Department received an email from an anonymous source stating that live explosives were placed in three academic buildings and one residential building. By 9:02 am, HUPD officers had begun evacuating the targeted buildings, including Sever Hall, Emerson Hall, and the Science Center, forcing administrators to cancel the examinations being held in those locations.

Students whose 9 a.m. tests were cancelled were contacted directly by their course heads regarding the missed exam.

In an email to The Crimson, Burke noted that the make-up exams being held this week will cover 69 different courses, five of which were related to the disturbance on Dec. 16.

The vast majority of students [whose exams were cancelled due to the bomb threat] took a rescheduled exam either that day or later in the week,” Burke wrote in the same email.

Due to the schedule confusion caused by the bomb scare and by subsequent evacuations that afternoon, Secretary of the Administrative Board John “Jay” L. Ellison wrote in an email to the FAS that students who had their examinations scheduled for 2 p.m. that afternoon could also receive special consideration if they felt that the incident affected their ability to study for or take their exams.

According to Ellison, professors could choose to give their students three options—make-up their tests in February, opt out of taking their exam and instead be graded based on previous coursework, or request to be graded pass/fail for the course.

Some professors who taught courses whose exams were cancelled chose to schedule additional make-up examinations. Meredith Hegg, who taught Math 18: “Multivariable Calculus for Social Sciences,” said that she scheduled two additional examsone on the evening of Dec. 16, and one for the following day.

Everyone was cooperative, but everyone was also frustrated,” Hegg said of her students, who were evacuated just as their final was beginning.

According to Hegg, three students in her class of 14 undergraduates took their exam later that night, five took it the following day, and one is scheduled to take it this week. The rest opted out of taking the final exam.

Richard H. Fallon, professor of Government 1510: “American Constitutional Law” allowed students to take a make-up exam on Dec. 17, opt out of the exam entirely, or take the exam on Feb. 10. 28 students in his course of 233 undergraduates chose to take the make-up exam on Monday.

“I wanted to make sure that no student was made significantly worse off as a result of the bomb scare,” Fallon said. “ I wanted as many reasonable options as possible.”

Shelly Ngo ’17 said although she appreciated the University administration’s flexible final exam policy, she considered her exam’s rescheduling “a big hassle.” Ngo was unable to take a make-up final exam for Life Sciences 1a: “An Integrated Introduction to the Life Sciences: Chemistry, Molecular Biology, and Cell Biology” due to travel reasons.

“It’s been so frustrating because there was so much time in between when the final was supposed to be and when I am actually taking [it],” said Ngo, who will take her final exam on Wednesday. “I just have to keep refreshing.”

—Staff writer Meg P. Bernhard can be reached at mbernhard@college.harvard.edu. Follow her on twitter @Meg_Bernhard.

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