Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Open Letter to Stanford University

I have sent the following letter regarding the AlertSU system at Stanford University. I am hereby posting the letter I have sent verbatim.

Subject: Troubling unsigned email message sent via AlertSU.

I have received an email message regarding a personal issue via the AlertSU system, which is supposed to be only used for emergencies (letter attached below). The letter was unsigned except by the general name "STANFORD UNIVERSITY".

First of all, I would like to request the name and job title of the author of this message, since this information was never supplied.

Second, this message is by no way shape or form related to any kind of emergency, and therefore should not be posted via AlertSU -- a system the Stanford community cannot opt out of.

Third, I am very concerned about the content of the message itself. The message uses phrases such as "stranger", "Unbeknownst to the student" and "did not appear to pose a threat" and selectively mentions some of that person's private belongings. It seems these were designed to lead the readers to assume that the stranger may have intended to act maliciously, when this is just a simple case of a person forgetting his bag in a stranger's car. The important cautionary note is that you should make sure to take your belongings with you upon leaving a vehicle.

Implying that lighter fluid and handcuffs have no use other for illicit purposes reeks of intolerance that the Stanford community should not be subject to.

Alon Altman
In the early morning hours of Saturday, January 30th, a Stanford student struck up a conversation with a stranger at a bar in Palo Alto near the campus.  The stranger, a male, suggested that they go out for food.  The student drove the stranger to a McDonald's in East Palo Alto.  The stranger then asked the student if he could crash at the student's residence. The student refused, so the stranger got out of the student's vehicle.  Unbeknownst to the student, the stranger left a bag of personal items in the student's car.  Upon discovering the bag, the student took it to the Stanford Police (on Monday, February 1) so that it could be returned to the stranger.  Among the items in the bag, the police located a pair of handcuffs and lighter fluid.  The officers were able to ascertain the identity of the stranger and, after some investigation, determined that the individual did not appear to pose a threat to the student or the community.  None-the-less, the Stanford Police would like to remind you to be wary of offering rides to people whom you do not know.

16 comments:

  1. You're absolutely right. This is such bullshit!
    "OMG, lighter fluid! That's like... napalm! Right?" Not even to mention the handcuffs :-)

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  2. Were you able to get your stuff back ok?

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  3. So, do you finally know who this stranger is?

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