Hack Taken Seriously: Bomb Squad Called on Burton Third Promotion

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A Cambridge Bomb Squad officer attempts to disable a device placed on Kresge Field on the morning of April 24. The device was, in fact, a cherry-bomb-shaped concrete block advertising for the weekend’s annual “Dance ‘Til You Drop” party hosted by the Burton 3rd Bombers.
Greg Steinbrecher—The Tech

In 2008, Burton Third hung a silhouette of a bomber plane, bearing the letters “DTYD”, in Lobby 7 as a way of advertising their annual party. In 2009, they took it a step further. Early on April 24, a giant concrete structure, shaped to look like a bomb, appeared on the lawn of Kresge. What was meant as a simple advertisement for an annual event spun out of control, leading to investigation by the Cambridge Bomb squad.

A student notified MIT police of the presence of the object on Kresge at approximately 3 a.m. After investigating the structure, the police called the Cambridge Fire Department at approximately 5 a.m. The Cambridge Fire Department in turn called in the Cambridge Bomb squad to ensure the block was not dangerous.

The bomb squad fully investigated the supposed bomb, including examinations by members of the bomb squad dressed in full blast resistant gear and the use of a robot to inspect the bomb. A small charge was detonated near the block in an attempt to defuse it.

Once the bomb squad determined the block was safe, the block was chained to a fire truck and pulled out of the ground. The “bomb” was only a concrete hemisphere, held into the ground by metal spikes, with a concrete fuse glued on top and the letters “DTYD” painted on the side. It was modeled after the cherry bomb that serves as the floor’s insignia.

Eric D. Schmiedl ’09 (also a Tech photographer), who photographed the structure, said that he told an MIT police officer the bomb was fake early on April 24. Police do not recall being told the bomb was fake, only that there was something to investigate on Kresge.

The students of Burton Third issued a written apology for the statement, writing “We, the students of Burton Third, wish to issue a sincere and full apology for the events of the morning of April 24, 2009, for which we accept full responsibility … We did not intend to convey any threat or danger to the community.”

Following the bomb squad’s investigation, there was discussion of Burton-Conner potentially paying as much as $20,000 in fines to Cambridge as a result of the bomb squad’s investigation. The Tech reported in April that Barbara A. Baker, Senior Associate Dean of Students, told the residents of Burton-Conner that the dorm would be billed for the cost of the investigation. However, Baker told this reporter that “We are not aware that a bill was issued.”

Despite the investigation, the party ran as planned the night of April 24.