VOLUME XXXIII NO. 15
THE STUDENT NEWSPAPER OF UTD — WWW.UTDMERCURY.COM
OCTOBER 7, 2013
Over 1.4k likes on facebook.com/theutdmercury | Hundreds follow @utdmercury on Twitter | By UTD students, for UTD students: continuously in print for more than 30 years
University doctors and denies access to digital documents related to accused alumnus. PAGE 3
EMPIRE BUSINESS Ross Ulbricht, 2006 grad, arrested for running multi-million dollar online black market FBI links Ulbricht to Dread Pirate Roberts identity through social media, email accounts Silk Road marketplace was hidden in the Deep Web, used untraceable Bitcoins Ulbricht’s former UTD roommate gives insight to college days in exclusive interview Feds seize Ulbricht, shut down site Story by SHEILA DANG/MANAGING EDITOR Photo Illustration by CATHRYN PLOEHN/GRAPHICS EDITOR and DANIEL LEEPER/MERCURY STAFF
The FBI arrested a UTD alumnus on Oct. 1, allegedly the leader behind Silk Road, an underground black market website. Ross Ulbricht, a 2006 graduate, was arrested in a branch of the San Francisco Public Library and indicted on charges in money laundering, computer hacking and narcotics trafficking conspiracy. The Department of Justice seized Silk Road’s website, an anonymous marketplace most known for its offerings of a variety of narcotics, including everything from marijuana to Afghani hash. The department also seized $3.6 million worth of Bitcoins, a digital currency that’s difficult to track and the only currency accepted by Silk Road vendors. According to the indictment from the U.S. District Court in Maryland, Ulbricht operated Silk Road under the pseudonym Dread Pirate Roberts, a character from the movie “The Princess Bride.” In November 2012, Dread Pirate Roberts, or DPR, paid an undercover agent $80,000 to kill a Silk Road administrator who had stolen Bitcoins from users. The undercover agent then sent a doctored photo to DPR depicting a dead body to prove the murder, the indictment stated.
In a separate incident documented in a criminal complaint against Ulbricht, a Silk Road vendor from White Rock, British Columbia began blackmailing DPR in March, threatening to release the names and addresses of thousands of Silk Road’s vendors and customers unless he was paid $500,000. DPR then agreed to pay a hit-man 1,670 Bitcoins, the equivalent of about $150,000, to kill the vendor. While the hit-man supposedly sent a photo to prove the murder, Canadian authorities found no record of a man in White Rock with the name DPR provided, nor an incident of a homicide in the town around that date, according to the criminal complaint. Despite these events, it was connections to Ulbricht’s personal email and social media accounts that led to his arrest. According to the criminal complaint, posts written in January 2011 to a forum for users of the drug called shrooms and another website called Bitcoin Talk, asked users whether they had bought drugs from the Silk Road website. The questions were posted by someone with the username “altoid,” and were deemed by the FBI to have been written with the intention of
College roommate opens up about Ulbricht MIGUEL PEREZ Mercury Staff
Silk Road and the Deep Web JOSEPH MANCUSO Mercury Staff
Silk Road, the online black market that generated millions of dollars in drug sale commissions, was shut down by various federal agencies on Oct. 2. Notorious for the ease at which users could buy illegal drugs, the website had been in operation since January 2011. Silk Road was able to remain hidden from authorities by being hosted on the Deep Web, a hidden group of websites not detected by standard search engines like Google or Bing.
Int’l students slammed by scam Con men pose as law enforcement, exploit fear of deportation for money
Mechanical engineering grad student Srinath Iyengar is just one of several UTD students who have been targeted. ANWESHA BHATTACHARJEE Web Editor
By the time the clock struck five on Sept. 23, Srinath Iyengar, a mechanical engineering graduate student and native of India, had been threatened with deportation, cheated of $2,200 and led through a two-hour emotional roller-coaster ride. It started with a call at around 1 p.m. from a man who identi-
fied himself as a police officer. Iyengar was ordered to leave any building he was in and go to a secluded space where no one would be able to hear him. The caller informed Iyengar that his I-94 form, a document that proves an immigrant’s entry status in the United States, was incomplete and that he had been repeatedly notified by email to correct it online. Since he had failed to respond in the designated timeframe, a lawsuit had been filed by the American Embassy against him in India and he had two options available — seven weeks in prison and deportation or pay a fine. “I didn’t believe him initially, and I thought he was pulling a fast one on me,” Iyengar, a mechanical engineering graduate student, said. “Then he started listing out everything he knew about me — where I study, my name, my date of birth and my father’s name — not many people know my date of birth and my father’s name … that’s when I thought this was legitimate.” Turns out, Iyengar’s first instinct was spot-on. The caller turned out to be part of a scam that targets international students and cons them into transferring large amounts of money into their account. Iyengar opted to pay a fine over deportation and was then transferred to another caller, who claimed to be from the Department of Homeland Security. He was asked to take public transport or drive by himself to the nearest Walmart, put $2,400 on a Green
The alleged drug lord the FBI arrested on Oct. 1 is a far cry from the friendly and intelligent man who attended UTD, according to a former college friend. “(Ross) was a lot of fun. Just reading the indictment about him — it was like reading about a completely different person,” said former roommate and UTD alumnus Aaron Arnold. “He was just a really fun, outgoing kind of person; not at all the kind of person that would allegedly order a hit on someone.” Arnold roomed with Ulbricht in a Phase V apartment from 2003 until Ulbricht graduated in 2006 with a bachelor’s in physics. According to Ulbricht’s LinkedIn page, he was an Academic Excellence Scholar and had scholarships from the College of Engineering and Nanotech Institute. During his time at UTD, Ulbricht was part of the
Bike thief caught
Non-affiliated male threatens to kill student when discovered; UTDPD urge vigilance with personal property
See full story on page 5
TAYLOR TISDALE Mercury Staff
Daily traffic congestion near campus since the start of the fall semester has prompted Student Government to consider meeting with the City of Richardson to find a feasible solution; at the same time, the senate confirmed the available-parking space tracking system outside the parking garage will be repaired within the next 30 days. At the Oct. 1 SG meeting, faculty advisor Marylin Kaplan raised the concern about the daily traffic congestion between Campbell Road and Waterview Parkway. The traffic light at this intersection only permits two to three cars to leave campus at one time, causing traffic to back up down Waterview during peak hours when people from the surrounding neighborhoods are trying to leave or get home from work, Kaplan said. The new parking garage, while offering an additional 750 parking spaces and an LED display system to help students find parking, has experienced technical difficulties with the sensors used to track the available spaces. â€œIf you cross out of your lane even a little bit or cut a corner, the system wonâ€™t read you,â€? said SG President Liza Liberman. The Parking and Transportation Committee will meet next week to discuss these issues and possibly inquire the City of Richardson as to what can be done to remedy the traffic congestion. The parking display board in the parking garage was contracted from an outside company, so students can expect the sensors to be
OCT. 7, 2013
UTD Police blotter
repaired in less than a month, Liberman said. Technology chair Brooke Knudtson proposed three new flyer kiosks for the campus, with the possibility of more to follow pending the success of the first three. The kiosks would promote an informed student population by establishing set locations for informational flyers and advertisements to be placed, she said. The units would be outside at three locations and shielded from the elements by protective glass. The initial suggested locations were in front of the Art Barn at the intersection of Rutford Ave and Drive D, outside of Hoblitzelle Hall to the left of the bus stop and outside of JSOM across from the new ATEC building. The units would also include recycling bins underneath, with the total cost coming to around $2,500 for three kiosks and another $3,000 for the accompanying recycling bins. Residential Student Affairs chair Katie Truesdale suggested placing comment and suggestion boxes in various areas likely to be frequented by students. The results would be compiled by the senate and presented to Residential Life. Truesdale said her committee would survey residents in Phases I-IV of University Village, which used to be the Waterview apartments. These surveys will address the conditions of these residences since the shifting of management in July after claims of maintenance issues, outdated appliances and general lack of upkeep while the apartments were under Waterview management. During a walk through of the campus, Student Affairs chair Casey
Sublett notified Facilities Management about several structural and landscape problem areas on campus, some of which are the patio area outside The Pub and the sidewalk area outside of Berkner Hall. Many of these concerns are planned to be addressed during the North Mall and Founders Fountain renovation taking place during the winter break. t 'PS UIF TFDPOE ZFBS 4( XJMM host a tailgate from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Nov. 16 in parking lot K for the men and womenâ€™s basketball games. Students attending are encouraged to bring their own grills and trucks, but food and refreshments will also be provided by SG and the Chartwells campus dining service. t É¨F *OUFSGSBUFSOJUZ $PVODJM is holding a â€œWalk a Mile in Her Shoesâ€? awareness benefit from 12-1 p.m. on Oct. 14 at the Plinth. Participants, particularly men, are encouraged to wear high-heels at the event where they will walk around the reflection pools as a symbol of support for womenâ€™s issues. The event is free and will have booths from a variety of organizations on campus such as the counseling center and health center. t+PTFQI-JNXBTOPNJOBUFEBOE elected unopposed Academic Affairs chair. t4BCSJOB"SOPMEXBTOPNJOBUFE and elected unopposed Graduate and International Affairs chair. t É¨F TFOBUF BMMPDBUFE GPS snacks for the Senate Retreat taking place on Oct. 4-6. tÉ¨FOFYU4(NFFUJOHXJMMCFBU 5:15 p.m. on Oct. 15 in one of the Galaxy Rooms.
Corrections: In the Sept. 23 edition of The Mercury, in the article titled â€œCensus data shows growth, top majors,â€? Cristen Caseyâ€™s name was misspelled. In the article titled â€œCapstone program wins Tech Titan award,â€? Lance Sweeneyâ€™s name was misspelled. The Mercury regrets these errors.
Sept. 12 t"TUVEFOUSFQPSUFEBCVSHMBSZ to her vehicle with suspect information. t"OPĂŻDFSNFUXJUIBTUVEFOU in reference to someone hitting her car and not leaving the required information. t"65%WFIJDMFXBTJOWPMWFE in a minor accident. Sept. 13 t " TUVEFOU XBT BSSFTUFE GPS DWI. t "O PĂŻDFS NFU XJUI B DPNplainant in reference to a burglary of a vehicle. Sept. 14 t"TUVEFOUSFQPSUFEIFSXBMMFU was taken at the SU without her consent. Sept. 15 t"OPOBĂŻMJBUFEQFSTPOXBTBSrested for DWI. Sept. 17 t " OPOBĂŻMJBUFE NBMF XBT JTsued a criminal trespass warning. t"TUVEFOUSFQPSUFEIJTQBSLJOH permit was taken from his vehicle. Sept. 18 t"OPOBĂŻMJBUFEQFSTPOXBTBSrested for driving with an invalid license and other agency warrants. t " TUVEFOU SFQPSUFE IFS FY boyfriend was sending her harassing text messages. Sept. 19
t"TUVEFOUXBTBSSFTUFEGPSPUIer agency arrest warrants. t5XP TUVEFOUT SFQPSUFE BO BTsault by another student. Sept. 20 t1PMJDFSFTQPOEFEUPBSFQPSUFE aggravated robbery near UV apartment building 53. t"TUVEFOUSFQPSUFEUIFUIFGUPG his bicycle from a bike rack near building 53. t " TUVEFOU SFQPSUFE IJT CJLF stolen from a bike rack near building 49 in phase 7. t "O VOLOPXO TVTQFDU QSJFE open the rear door to the food truck and took undetermined property from within. Sept. 21 t"TUVEFOUXBTBSSFTUFEGPSQPTsession of marijuana, drug paraphernalia and possession of alcohol by a minor. t " DPNNFSDJBM WFIJDMF XBT involved in an accident causing damage to state property. t"TUVEFOUSFQPSUFEUIFUIFGUPG his bicycle from the bike rack near building 16. Sept. 23 t"TUVEFOUSFQPSUFEBUIFGUPG money by fraud. t"TUVEFOUSFQPSUFEUIFUIFGUPG his bicycle. Sept. 25 t " OPOBĂŻMJBUFE NBMF XBT BS-
rested for possession of marijuana. t " OPOBĂŻMJBUFE NBMF XBT BSrested for DWI. t"TUVEFOUSFQPSUFEUIFUIFGUPG his bicycle from the bike rack near building 49. Sept. 26 t " XJUOFTT SFQPSUFE TIF PCserved a minor collision involving an unattended vehicle. The driver of the striking vehicle left the scene without leaving a note providing their information. t " OPOBĂŻMJBUFE NBMF XBT BSrested for theft of an iPad. Sept. 27 t 1PMJDF OPUJĂŤFE B TUVEFOU UIBU his bicycle was recovered during the investigation of a theft case. Sept. 29 t " TUVEFOU XBT BSSFTUFE GPS DWI by a minor. Sept. 30 t " TUVEFOU SFQPSUFE BO VOknown male entered the common area of her dorm, room 4.431 in Res Hall South, without her permission. t"TUVEFOUSFQPSUFECFJOHIBrassed. Oct. 1 t " TUVEFOU SFQPSUFE TPNFPOF took his TREK bicycle without his consent. t (SBĂŻUJ XBT GPVOE OFBS UIF Jonsson building.
649 W. Campbell Rd. 972-234-4002
Piyush Lal, biology graduate student, was caught reading The Mercury. He will win a $20 gift card to Palioâ€™s Pizza, a local pizza, pasta and salad restaurant. Thanks Palioâ€™s Pizza!
OCT. 7, 2013
404 Page Not Found: University erases Ulbricht Investigation finds years-old information on UTD sites removed, modified following alum’s arrest Editorial Board Lauren Featherstone, Editor-in-Chief Sheila Dang, Managing Editor Anwesha Bhattacharjee, Web Editor Cathryn Ploehn, Graphics Editor Christopher Wang, Photo Editor Sarah Larson, Life & Arts Editor
The University of Texas at Dallas is attempting to shove Ross Ulbricht down the memory hole. Official university pages that reference the accused alumnus have been edited to remove all mention of him, or have been deleted altogether. While we on The Mercury editorial board understand that this action is by no means illegal and indeed is the administration’s prerogative, we still find this scrub-
bing highly dubious. By altering or denying access to primary documents that live on the web, the university only harms its reputation and injures related parties in the crossfire. By expunging the accused from UTD sites, the university obfuscates the truth and impedes accuracy. By removing Ulbricht from the digital record, the university seems to be bent on destroying any trace of his time here. All this, before the man has even had a trial. When asked for comment, the Office of Communications said in a statement to The Mercury that “The nature of the allegations at hand is severe. The University will not present any content that would imply or lead to an inference that the University supports unlawful behavior.” Admitting that Ulbricht represented UTD at a 2005 conference held by Houston’s Rice University is not an endorsement. Listing Ulbricht as a former fellow of the NanoTech Institute does not confirm nor deny the government’s strong allegations against him. Deleting pictures of him in front of his research poster will not change the fact that he once tread
upon these hallowed grounds. Indeed, the university will only go so far as to say that he graduated from this institution and nothing more. This, of course, is their right. They are under no obligation to say anything further. But to delete from the living digital record of his life before any judgement is rendered only casts more scrutiny upon the university. We have no reason to believe that the university is complicit in this case, far from it in fact, considering how long ago he attended here. Why then does UTD insist upon acting like a guilty party? Ulbricht’s work in physics and nanotechnology at the undergraduate level here at UTD seem to have little to do with the allegations levied against him. He did not study computer science, network engineering or supply chain management during his time here. He did not even study anything related to the crimes he is accused of at the graduate level either. His master’s thesis at Penn State University is titled “Growth of EuO Thin Films by Molecular-Beam Epitaxy” and is incidentally still available for public consumption on the Penn State servers. Moreover, the systematic and thor-
ough purging of Ulbricht’s UTD presence has unwittingly affected those the government has not filed a criminal complaint against. This all-or-nothing approach has seen Ulbricht disappear along with his peers from the university’s servers. His classmates and their accomplishments have been denied entirely through the deletion of whole pages in some cases, thousands of words gone because of a single reference to the renounced name. This wholesale obliteration is irresponsible and reactionary, and harms the reputation of innocent bystanders to this drama. These allegations of wrongdoing on Ulbricht’s part may be severe, but likewise for this university’s response. This scorched-earth approach to public relations will do nothing to change the fact that multiple press accounts have already linked Ulbricht, an otherwise unknown person, to both UTD and Penn State. Search engines will merely point to Forbes, NPR or Washington Post pieces containing these facts instead of UTD’s own pages. It is the opinion of The Mercury editorial board that the truth is more important than search engine optimization.
FAR LEFT: utdallas.edu/news/ archive/2004/ creativeproblemsolving. htm
LINA MOON/ASST. GRAPHICS ED.
A press release titled “UT Dallas’ Creative Problem Solving Teams Do Well in Global Competition” (originally published June 2, 2004, updated Aug. 17, 2004) has been doctored to remove Ross Ulbricht’s name. The top screen shot was taken from the Internet Archive Wayback Machine’s May 5, 2007 cached version of the page, while the bottom screen shot was taken Oct. 4, 2013. The latest version of the been edited to remove Ulbricht’s name.
IMMEDIATE LEFT: nanotech.utdallas.edu/ about/outside.html This screen capture was taken with the assistance of the Internet Archive Wayback Machine. The full, cached version of the page as it appeared on Oct. 18, third place prizes that went to graduate student KZ Inoue and visiting scientist Jiyoung Oh, respectively at the Oct. 2005 Strategic Partnership for Research in Nanotechnology conference hosted by Rice U. in Houston. Following the above URL now results in a “Not Found” error.
“Maybe not in a major way but just in the fact that it’s the people UTD is putting out.”
“They must think UTD must not be a great place because these kinds of people are coming from there.”
“He’s spent a lot of time and a lot of the values he’s learned come from this school. It would definitely be damaging.”
Math and physics freshman
Chloe Ferris Arts & Technology junior
Vikramvel Chockalingam Computer science grad student
“I wouldn’t say it directly damages the school’s reputation, more so the student and the people related to the student.”
“It could to a certain degree because he did go to the school, but he’s just one student. It’s a little in-between.”
“This specific (student) got arrested but he doesn’t represent the whole school.”
Mark Fos Mechanical engineering freshman
Marriam Khan Software engineering junior
Duc Dam Economics and finance junior
Photo Editor Christopher Wang Editor-in-Chief Lauren Featherstone Managing Editor Sheila Dang Director of Sales and Promotions Nada Alasmi
Web Editor Anwesha Bhattacharjee Graphics Editor Cathryn Ploehn Asst. Graphics Editor Lina Moon
Life & Arts Editor Sarah Larson Media Adviser Chad Thomas Staff Writers Joseph Mancuso Miguel Perez
Staff Photographers Connie Cheng Parth Parikh Ad Sales Representative Juveria Baig Contributors Pablo Arauz Animesh Chowdhury Viviana Cruz Srayan Guhathakurta Daniel Leeper Madison McCall Abanish Mishra
Shaun Mohamed Kayla Pele Lillian Raemsch Parth Sampat Robert Secheli Ellen Shih Ravi Teja Jeff Thekkekara Justin Thompson Taylor Tisdale Shyam Vedantam Yubin Wang Yang Xi Marcelo Yates
The Mercury is published on Mondays, at two-week intervals during the long term of The University of Texas at Dallas, except holidays and exam periods, and once every four weeks during the summer term. Advertising is accepted by The Mercury on the basis that there is no discrimination by the advertiser in the offering of goods or services to any person, on any basis prohibited by applicable law. Evidence of discrimination will be the basis of denial of advertising space. The publication of advertising in The Mercury does not constitute an
endorsement of products or services by the newspaper, or The University of Texas at Dallas, or the governing board of the institution. Your first copy of each new issue of The Mercury is free. Each additional copy is 25 cents. See electronic editions of the paper at no charge on www.utdmercury.com Copyright © 2013, UT Dallas. All Rights Reserved. Help UTD’s sustainablity efforts. Please recycle this newspaper.
800 W. Campbell Road, SU 24, Richardson, TX 75080-0688
Four bicycles recovered from campus theft Student catches perpetrator red-handed; UTDPD recommends registering bikes, engraving property SARAH LARSON Life & Arts Editor
UTDPD arrested and charged a nonaffiliated person with a Class A misdemeanor theft at 1:38 a.m. on Sept. 20 in connection to four stolen bicycles. According to the police report, a student leaving his apartment in Phase 9 saw Roy Crew dismantling a bike. The student, who recognized the bike as his own, confronted Crew. Crew lied about ownership of the bike and then threatened the life of the student, police said. According to Lt. Ken MacKenzie, the student did exactly what he was supposed to do in the situation by running away and calling UTDPD. Police arrived shortly on the scene and searched the area. They found Crew and his truck with the four stolen bikes belonging to UTD students. The bikes were confiscated and returned to their owners. The registration of the bikes’ serial numbers was integral to the process, MacKenzie said. Police were not able to find out Crew’s motive for stealing the bikes, but charged the man with a Class A misdemeanor for stealing items worth between $500 and $1,500. According to UTDPD’s theft log, four bikes were stolen during the spring 2013 semester. Since Aug. 17, nine bikes have been stolen, including the four recovered on Sept. 20. However, while bike thefts have increased in the last two semesters, the student population has increased as well by 12 percent since last year, MacKenzie said. In order to prevent outdoor theft and aid in finding thieves, the police looked into providing outdoor cameras aimed at parking lots and housing areas, but are still unable to install cameras at this time. “A lot of the students may have problems with cameras outside their apartments,” MacKenzie said. “(Installing cameras) may not happen. But it’ll probably happen in the parking lots on campus quicker than it will in the housing area because some people (worry it’s) a violation of their privacy.” Crime Prevention Officer David Spigelmyer said lack of care in protecting
valuables such a bikes can lead to easy targets and unnecessary thefts. “I’m really trying to change the mindset and educate our students and staff not to be so trusting,” Spigelmyer said. “Even though we have a very safe campus as far as your person is concerned, any time you have the combination of property and people, you always run the risk of theft.” Students with bikes are required by Residential Life to register bikes with them. This free registration of a bike’s serial number helps police identify owners of lost, stolen or impounded bikes. Police said they recommend students buy a secure bike lock, such as the difficult-to-break U-shaped locks, rather than the traditional cable locks or chains, which are easier to cut. “It’s worth the purchase because if you make your bike harder to steal, a thief may be out there longer and maybe someone will see them, or they may just skip your bike for an easier target,” Spigelmyer said. There are many options available to students in order to ward off bike thefts. “If you live in the apartments, I highly recommend keeping your bicycle in your bedroom,” Spigelmyer said. “If you want to leave your bike in the living room, all you need is your roommates’ permissions.” Bikes are not allowed to be kept on the balcony of the apartments or under staircase banisters as per housing rules. While those who live in the residence halls are not allowed to keep bikes within the building, Spigelmyer suggests taking off the bike seat or front tire if possible when leaving the bike in a bike rack. Although Crew targeted Phase 9 where he was arrested, Spigelmyer said thieves search all over campus for abandoned bikes and easy targets. According to UTDPD, bike theft is the second most common stolen item on campus. Laptops and other electronic devices are the number one most stolen items, with reports coming in more often during finals week. Spigelmyer encourages students to engrave their belongings such as bikes and laptops with their driver’s license number or phone number. UTDPD provides free engraving when requested for staff and students.
New site manages Comet Card money
OCT. 7, 2013
Water usage, conservation takes focus Drought, zebra mussels lead to stage 3 city restrictions; UTD remains exempt PABLO ARAUZ Mercury Staff
Students might find themselves walking to class with the slight nuisance of walking around a sidewalk because a sprinkler is in the way. Alison Reed, Arts & Technology sophomore and peer adviser at Residence Hall North, said she’s noticed. “It’s annoying when you’re walking to class and you’re trying to run through it,” she said. “All of them are pretty much in range of the sidewalks if they’re on.” And while Reed said it isn’t a huge problem, it’d be a good idea for someone to keep track of the sprinkler systems in case they were wasting water. “We all know that no matter how much you water the concrete, it will not grow,” said Thea Junt, assistant director for energy conservation and sustainability. Water usage on campus Junt’s job, among other things, is to supervise water usage such as the sprinkler systems on campus. She also helps conserve water for the campus, which helps save money. For the fiscal year since September 2012 to August 2013, the campus used up 123,133 gallons of water, which cost the university $762,516. “I think there’s an increased demand on water resources commercially, residentially and industrially, and I don’t think those are going down in any measure,” Junt said. However, thanks to water conserva-
tion projects on campus, water usage decreased from the previous fiscal year, when it was at 178,042 gallons and costing the university $894,453. Last semester, Junt worked on creating a no-mow zone on the northeast side of campus near the Callier Center where native plants such as wildflowers
and prairie grass were allowed to grow freely. “Weather watered them while it could. We actually did not water that area; we did not do a traditional landscape in that area,” she said. “I thought
Family Day events draw record 950 in attendance
Portal provides three new ways to add funds to card
Students and their family members gather in the Activity Center gym to listen to the Family Day opening program on Sept. 28. UTD President David Daniel took to the stage to welcome the attendees to campus. Professor Kenneth Pugh gave the keynote address and asked the audience to stand and introduce themselves to families nearby.
Students and families tour campus, participate in social and volunteer activities
GET Funds is a new online interface for managing money on Comet Cards that went live over the summer of 2013. The secure GET portal enables a user to make real-time UTDollars deposits using a credit or debit card. Comet Card accountant and notary Joel Dille said, “The earlier process of manually processing every money deposit would take (too much) time, so after discussing with Student Affairs and Student Government we decided to implement the GET portal. It enables parents or any other beneficiary to deposit money electronically, which gets transferred to the Comet Card account instantaneously.” Available to every Comet Cardholder, the GET portal can be accessed through the Comet Center website. Comet Card holders can log in using their NetID and password to view account information such as transactions as well as report a lost or stolen card. They can also add money to their
UTDollars account and view account balances in the four accounts: UTDollars, Dining dollars, Added value and Meal money. UTDollars can be used across any location at UTD that accepts the Comet Card such as the Comet Center, Technology Store and Activity Center. Dining dollars currencies can be used only at dining locations, while the Added value account consists of the bonus amount that is added when purchasing dining dollars. Meal money refers to available sending through the traditional meal plans. Currently there are three ways of making real-time deposits through the GET portal. The cardholder can add funds using a credit or debit card. VISA, Master Card or Discover cards may be used for the transaction. Parents, guardians and other beneficiaries can deposit UTDollars to a Comet Card account using the Student ID and the date of birth of the A student can also use the portal to
Despite wet weather, Family Day saw its largest turnout in the program’s history with over 950 attendees on Sept. 28 Family Day is a Comet tradition where students can show their families around the campus. The event has been restructured over the years from touring the campus, to events concentrated at the campus mall, making it a consolidated event for families to meet and spend time with each other, said Dan Long, assistant director for New Student Programs. The Activity Center was packed with families in white and green UTD T-shirts early before the opening program. UTD President David Daniel took to the stage and emphasized the need for students to enroll in student organizations since they encourage peer learning, help in leadership opportunities and team building. Dean of Students Gene Fitch spoke next
about recent renovations to buildings on campus. Student Government President Liza Liberman talked about events held on campus, for parents’ whose students do not update them about what’s going on. “Despite all my research I have done in three years at UT Dallas, there is one thing I haven’t learned to do properly, and that is how to answer my parents questions’ to their satisfaction,” Liberman said. Kenneth Pugh, clinical associate professor at the Callier Center, highlighted first generation students in his keynote address. “I too am a first generation student; we are truly fortunate to have first generation students join the UT Dallas family,” he said. Pugh asked the audience to treat these students as family and provide them guidance and support. Making it an interactive session, he then asked audience members to introduce themselves with families around them.
Pugh stressed that students utilize college opportunities and maintain a long lasting relationship with college friends even after graduation. “College helps you make the impossible possible,” he said. Families then headed to the mall area for lunch and spent their time at the Tailgate, a group of events including live music, competitions and the annual family day volunteer project. In the Comet Café, students and their families had the opportunity to decorate scarves for the homeless as part of the volunteer project organized by the Office of Student Volunteerism. Biology freshman Ajay Tulsi’s father said, “We have been to several other universities but we like this family day at UTD the best because of the atmosphere.” Software engineering senior Jonathon Kozak’s family had attended
OCT. 7, 2013
UV working to improve Phase I-IV apartments
While disparities remain, process begins to update former Waterview buildings with features seen in other apartments and Res Halls RAVI TEJA
Three months after Phases I to IV were taken over officially by the university, inequalities between these buildings and existing University Village apartments are being ironed out, while others continue to persist. Housing officials on campus are working slowly toward uniform management. The $15 water fee for residents in these phases was eliminated. Starting Sept. 16, the two laundromats in Phase I had new locks installed on them and could be used for free as opposed to $1 per laundry cycle before. “As soon we made the purchase, we began evaluating the difference between the different phases — some apartments had laundry machines and some did not,” said Matthew Grief, assistant vice president for Student Affairs. “What I have tried to do is make it equal so
that the students do not have to pay for laundry any longer; it is an amenity included with the rent.” University Village, or UV, sent an email on Oct. 4 informing residents in Phases I to IV that new wireless cable modems will be available for installation. The modems will provide wireless internet service and basic cable television, included in rent at no extra charge. Students residing in these apartments, however, feel there is a lot more to be desired from the new management. Unlike Waterview Park, UV did not repair broken appliances or change locks when his roommate moved out, said Qing Fang, economics graduate student and a resident for two years. Auto-debit options are not available yet for residents in
Students in the former Waterview buildings have complained that mailboxes are often left open, making security a concern when shipping packages to the apartments. UV has done away with the $1 fee per laundry load, making laundry free to match current policies in other oncampus buildings. Residents can make additional recommendations regarding housing through the Campus Housing Advisory Committee.
Dallas and Houston ranked happiest cities in U.S. Religion, political participation and good health contribute to ranking results; students also cite life balance between work and play MADISON MCCALL and MIGUEL PEREZ Mercury Staff
Dallas/Fort Worth and Houston are the two happiest metropolitan areas, according to a marketing poll conducted in September. UTD’s fall 2013 university profile reveals that counties within DFW and Houston are home to a majority of students. Harris Interactive, a researchconsulting firm, released a report classifying 38 percent of DFW residents as “very happy,” the highest among the top 10 major U.S. markets including Atlanta, Boston, Chicago and Los Angeles. Houston ranked second with 36 percent of residents described
as very happy. Known as the Harris Happiness Index, the survey included factors like friends and family, political efficacy and health. The DFW metroplex had a majority of respondents that felt their spiritual beliefs guided their lifestyle, rarely worried about health issues and felt they could influence political decisions. Political science junior Michelle Ofiwe is a Houston native who said the poll’s top results are not surprising. “Houston and DFW have made me happy in their own special ways,” she said. “I also think that both areas’ economic stability has something to do with it. It’s quite possible that everything, including the job market, is better
CATHRYN PLOEHN/GRAPHICS EDITOR
in Texas.” Economics senior Sean Jordan said the student experience is a big part of student happiness. “I don’t think the correlation between happiness and educa-
$300K grant awarded to humanities research Students to participate in three-year engineering and ethics study VIVIANA CRUZ Mercury Staff
The School of Arts and Humanities’ Center for Values in Medicine, Science and Technology was awarded a grant for nearly $300,000 from the National Science Foundation on Aug. 21 for a proposal to study the effect of ethics experts in engineering education. The grant, disbursed through the Ethics Education in Science and Engineering, or EESE, program, is one of the largest NSF awards to date in a traditional humanities field at UTD. Center for Values Director Matthew Brown is the principal investigator in the grant-funded research project titled ‘Engineering Ethics as an Expert Guided and Socially Situated Activity.’ Electrical engineering professor Nicholas Gans and Center for Values Assistant Director Magdalena Grohman are co-principal investigators. The project will involve both undergraduate and graduate students who will be observed in ethical decision making in situ. Seniors participating in UTDesign will be the main re-
search subjects. Students who have taken a special course in ethics and social issues in technology will be embedded in the UTDesign teams as ethics experts and will be available to UTDesign students for consultation on any issues in their research projects. Arts and Humanities students will participate as research assistants. The project’s funding started on Sep. 1 and will expire on Aug. 16, 2016. In the third year, small satellite studies will be conducted at other universities. The idea for the research project came during a meeting among Brown, Gans and Grohman to discuss what they would submit to the EESE’s open call for proposals. “We arrived at the curious contradiction that the Code of Ethics for Engineers says that engineers should only work in areas of their expertise, yet we have people with limited training in ethics that are expected to make ethical considerations for their work,” Gans said. Currently there is no clear-cut policy on the role ethicists play in engineering projects. Larger
companies may have ethicists on staff, but at UTD there is no policy on how engineering students would be able to request an ethics consultation on their work or have access to an ethicist, Gans said. However, engineering and computer science students at UTD are required to take a semester-long course in ethics and therefore receive a certain level of ethics training. Beyond the course, there does not seem to be additional interest from students in seeking ethical education. “The Ethics in Computer Science and Engineering instructors are certainly available if the students ever want to talk to them,” Gans said. “My experience is that they do not reach out. We want to investigate why or under what conditions would they be more willing to do so.” If after the three years the research project’s model of providing ethical resources to students yields adequate results, Grohman said the Center for Values will receive additional funding to implement its research findings into an engineering curriculum at UTD.
tion is necessarily important, but schools that provide a unique experience (influence student happiness),” he said. Amanda Smith, director of the Student Wellness Center, said life
balance is the key component to student happiness. “Students who are the happiest are those who create a good life balance,” Smith said. “Students who take their academics serious-
ly but also make time for a social life, who get exercise and eat well and who aren’t afraid to reach out for help when they need it.”
Family Day every year for the past four years. Their family photo with Temoc is on the homepage of the Family Day website. “Everything has increased tremendously; not only the student population but also
the buildings, the construction and the environment on campus is something new every time,” Kozak’s mother said. N’Tense provided the live music for the event, playing pop, rap and rock in the Galaxy Rooms. Families played bean bag toss and hula hooped as part of the family friendly competi-
tions held by the Student Wellness Center. Toward the end of the day, families prepared to watch the women’s soccer game against Hardin-Simmons University. However, the match was delayed for two hours due to rain and lightning. The game eventually began and ended with the Comets losing 5-1.
make an email request to a beneficiary to add money. The transactions made through the GET portal meet Payment Card Industry data security standards and any lost card reported can be blocked immediately to prevent misuse or losses. Telecommunications engineering graduate student Madhusudan
Pranav said, “Being an international student I will be able to load money easily with the convenience of the Internet, which means I do not have to go to banks every time.” The GET portal feature should not be confused with the already existing collaboration of Wells Fargo with the Comet Card. This system allows students to link their college checking account (with Wells Fargo) to their Comet Card, which in turn enables the usage of
the Comet Card as a debit card. The Comet Card office recorded the largest online activity in August 2013, as students began using the system to their advantage. Computer science sophomore Andrew White said, “It’s a lot easier to keep track of my spending habits on campus; however, I wish we had a smart phone application for this.” The online GET portal can currently be accessed through laptops, tablets and mobile phone browsers.
CATHRYN PLOEHN/GRAPHICS EDITOR
News 6 Event shows how good social media habits can lead to jobs WWW.UTDMERCURY.COM
OCT. 7, 2013
CATHRYN PLOEHN/GRAPHICS EDITOR
Career Center speakers to offer tips on polishing online presence MIGUEL PEREZ
The Career Management Center will host a Social Media Strategies seminar Oct. 10 to help students sharpen their networking skills in response to increasingly social media savvy employers. Neil Johnson, assistant director of the Career Management Center, or CMC, will co-present the workshop with Brian Herndon, associate director of college recruiting at AT&T, in the Davidson auditorium from 4–5 p.m. Heather Garcia, marketing and events coordinator at the CMC, said the presentation will focus on how students can expand their network strategies using social media — especially LinkedIn, whose power as a recruitment tool has been growing amongst employers, Garcia said. “In terms of LinkedIn and social media strategies, one of the things Johnson will touch on is the digital dirt aspect of social media,” Garcia said. “He’ll talk about cleaning (your profile) up and making sure it’s presentable because employers will look for you.” Garcia said roughly nine out of every 10 employers will use Google and online profiles as a way to find applicant information and use it to select suitable candidates for employment. Economics and finance junior Duc Dam is active on Facebook and LinkedIn and sets a goal to post monthly on his WordPress blog.
“I think employers using social media to recruit people shows that they are on track with current social trends,” Dam said. “Most young people now use social media; therefore, recruiters can reach out to a larger pool of talent through social media.” Dam said he thinks that even though the perception is that employers are relying heavily on networking sites, top companies still use the application process and campus visits to recruit. Jill Reilly, career programs coordinator for the Career Center, said the center hears plenty about employers using social media to review candidates and augment background checks. “They’re Googling students’ names just to see what comes up and making sure that there isn’t inappropriate photos or bad language being used on Facebook or Twitter,” Reilly said. Employers check for comments related to alcohol, drugs and generally negative content, he said. The workshop will focus on educating students about ways to maintain a good online presence and why lacking one can be just as harmful as a bad profile. A lack of a social media presence can be a red flag, Reilly said, because employers begin to wonder what a candidate is presumably hiding. “If you’re too hard to find, then that might be a little bit weird,” he said. “That’s not to say you need to be on every tool, but maybe have a
LinkedIn profile that people can find when they search.“ This allows a student to optimize themselves and their personal brand, instead of risking negative content popping up when an employer searches their name. Dam said that these basic online communication skillsets are becoming necessary in modern life. “There are people who don’t use social media, but if they really want to get a job and if employers use social media to recruit, then those people must learn to use social media,” he said. “It’s important to everyone, regardless of the age, to know how to manage a profile because the profile represents its owner.” Reilly said that although strong social media strategies are a big advantage for someone in marketing, business or customer service, everyone can benefit from some social media know-how. Even with Arts & Technology, computer science and emerging media and communications students, showing some understanding in using these common tools is seen as a positive. And positive branding is key to success in the business world, according to Garcia. “Think of it as ‘You, Incorporated,’” she said. “You are the CEO of your brand. How do you generate business? If you look at yourself like a company, you are selling what you have to offer to this employer as far as skills and certifications.”
When students strive for a balanced lifestyle, all the other factors that contribute to happiness fall into place. Health, relationships, academics and spiritual beliefs are all parts of a balanced life and the result is individual happiness, she said. Ofiwe said she’s come into her own in Dallas and that both cities have something to offer students. “I think there are plenty of factors that affect a college student’s happiness,” Ofiwe said. “Sleep, food, good grades, human contact, visits from parents, clubs and organizations, ex-
ercise — the list goes on.” Smith said no matter what religious affiliation students identify with, they can find a place of worship close to campus. Economics junior Sridhar Karra agreed that religion is very visible in Dallas. “Based on my own perception of the cities studied, I agree with the poll’s result, with Dallas’ spiritual inclination coming as no surprise due to its placement in the nation’s Bible Belt.” Students with strong support systems from friends and family seem to be amongst the happiest students on campus, Smith said. Even when a student is still living at home and
commuting, college can be a big adjustment. That support system can ease the transition for incoming students. “I’ve been here for seven years, and I’ve noticed that our students are very health conscious,” Smith said. “We have lots of students coming (to the Student Wellness Center) for consultations for fitness, nutrition and mental health. We have students who are looking for well-rounded health in their lives.” Karra said his happiness depends on the balance between work and rest. “The happiness of the city I live in is integral to my personal happiness. Plain and simple,” he said.
According to an email sent to residents in Phases I-IV, University Village will offer free wireless cable modems to provide Wi-Fi and basic cable from Time Warner. The services will be included in the rent at no extra cost; students will be given a schedule with available dates for installation.
Phases I to IV, said Swathi Tirumalachetty, a computer science graduate student. As a result, students who don’t own checkbooks have to make a trip to the bank each month to take out a money order for the rent, she said. In Phase IV, the mailboxes have been left open on multiple occasions, making it risky to have any shipments delivered to the mailbox, said Satya Karthik, a computer science graduate student. Lubna Hyder, another comput-
“I thought it was quite dramatic; it was a big change for us.” As for any faulty sprinklers, Junt said students can report any offensive sprinkler to facilities management. Drought and foreign invaders The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality keeps track of the drought that has been occurring in Texas as declared by the governor in 2011. According to the website, despite recent rainfalls, the drought is still going on today due to a lack of surface water, which keeps much of North Texas watching its meters. Meanwhile, the city of Richardson called for a stage three water restriction in June. According to the city’s website, this restriction maintains that residents and businesses comply with limited water usage. Junt, who also coordinates water conservation efforts with the city, said the campus, however, is exempt from this restriction. “We still conserve water but we do try to water at the right times,” she said. “We don’t see water going
er science graduate student, said she was unhappy with the maintenance and customer service at UV. “Dog poop is everywhere in the lawns,” she said. “Residents should pick up after their dogs and UV should maintain the lawns better.” In an effort to engage students and facilitate better communication between management and the residents, an email was sent out to all residents in late August, encouraging them to join the Campus Housing Advisory Committee, or CHAC, the official body in charge of making recommendations on housing. Nine students are currently on
the committee, which includes two peer advisors, one Student Government representative and one student who represents Phases I to IV. The committee has been instrumental in bringing about recent changes including separating residence hall parking from apartment parking and installation of recycle bins all around the apartments, Grief said. However, unless students are forthcoming and actively participate in making their concerns known to their representatives and the university, there is very little CHAC can do alone, he said.
in the middle of the day unless we’re doing tests.” Greg Sowell, director of communications with the city of Richardson, said the city works with the North Texas Municipal Water District to manage its water supply. The city buys an average of 11 billion gallons of water annually from the district although it uses only about 8.5 billion gallons. Stage three was put into place due to a lack of rainfall but also because one of the primary reservoirs for the district, Lake Texoma near the Oklahoma border, has lost 28 percent of its water supply partly because of the invasive and everpopulating zebra mussel. The creature, similar to the clam with origins in Russia, breeds quickly and clogs up man-made structures, making it hard on the region to obtain the water it needs. John Schetz, a local scientist at the University of North Texas Health and Science Center in Fort Worth said there could be a way to prevent these creatures from spreading. The key is in understanding the mussel’s natural glue that the creatures use to stick to boats and other manmade structures. “[They] have sort of a biological epoxy of sorts,” he said. “By analogy,
so there’s a resin and then there’s a hardening component, and in the case of these organisms, the hardening component is an enzyme.” So, he’s working on developing a surface chemical that interferes with the enzymes that can keep the mussels from sticking. So far, testing has been done on barnacles, which have similar glue to the mussels, and the research seems promising. What students can do As the university continues to make efforts to save water, students can do their part to help. Recently, the facilities installed water bottle filling stations students can use in the JSOM building. The stations have counters, which monitor how many water bottles have been saved. Junt also gave suggestions on what students can do to help save water overall. “Turn off the water while you’re brushing your teeth, take shorter showers and wash cars in an appropriate facility that recycles water,” she said. Also, students can report on any water problems to facilities at email@example.com.
OCT. 7, 2013
OCT. 7, 2013
New club more than just a hobby for students Yo-Yo Club offers relaxing atmosphere, looks to incorporate volunteer service ROBERT SECHELI Mercury Staff
Cubie Mesecher, computer science sophomore and president of the Yo-Yo Club, demonstates a trick students can learn at the organization’s weekly meetings. Mesercher hopes members will use the skills they learn to volunteer in the community.
The Yo-Yo Club provides students with a skill set and volunteer oportunities unlike any other offered on campus. After forming last semester but now fully-functioning, the Yo-Yo Club is inviting interested students to join in sharing the art of yo-yoing and fun. Cubie Mesecher, computer science sophomore and president of the Yo-Yo Club, founded the group last spring and intended it to be a place where people could meet up and relax while learning challenging yet rewarding skills. “I really wanted to start a yo-yo club because yo-yoing is something that’s been a lot of fun for me and a really great stress reliever,” Mesecher said. “It’s been a really great experience so far. It’s supposed to be a place where you can come have fun, socialize and learn, and teach yo-yoing to other people.” Ashley Moos, chemistry sophomore and publicist for the Yo-Yo Club, said she had entered Yo-Yo Club with little expectation of what it could offer. “I first joined Yo-Yo Club to meet people and ended up really enjoying yo-yoing,” Moos said. “It’s a fun little hobby to do and it’s cool to impress people with.” When comparing the Yo-Yo Club to other specialty clubs on campus, Moos said it is the low commitment and charming skill that makes the club appealing. “I think it’s a little bit more relaxed, and it’s something you can do in your spare time,” she said. The members meet for two hours twice every week and practice new tricks as well as teach one another. With music in the background from a playlist mix, the atmosphere is one of relaxation but calm focus as well. Outside of club meetings, many of the members practice
on their own time for future performances. Grant Hoh, biology freshman, said he was inspired by Mesecher’s performance at the UTD talent show in early September. “I joined Yo-Yo Club as a member after seeing Cubie (Mesecher) perform at the talent show,” Hoh said. “It was pretty crazy because I hadn’t seen yo-yos used like that before ... and I thought it was really awesome. There are people of different skill levels here, and there’s always someone to teach you something new ... it helps me to relax and not get all stressed.” Along with teaching the art of spinning wheels on string, the Yo-Yo Club also focuses on volunteering in the local area. “We did a service event at Ronald McDonald House of Dallas last semester. We went and yo-yoed for some kids,” Mesecher said. “Recently we worked at the Kid’s World for GrapeFest, a wine festival in Grapevine.” Although enjoyed by young adults everywhere, Mesecher said the club’s skill set is naturally geared more toward children. “Eventually I want to move the club a lot more towards doing service events,” he said. “I’m really focused right now on trying to get us into the hospitals in the area, including Dallas Children’s Medical Center. I want to go to the ICU and the long term care units and yo-yo for kids who are having a rough time. I think it’d do a lot to bring them a smile.” Although Yo-Yo Club is still in its early stages, it has proven to be a club focused on stress management, social interaction, personal development and eventually a considerable amount of volunteering, Mesecher said. Both new freshman looking for friends and upperclassmen looking to let off some steam would benefit from joining, he said.
Fitness program Flick offers real concert feel accessible to all Couch 2 5K pushes students to achieve running goals KAYLA PELE Mercury Staff
The Couch 2 5K program allows students of varying fitness levels to improve their running ability with a nine-week fitness plan. Registration for the program began Sept. 12, however, students will be able to continue to join in throughout the nine weeks. This is the second year that the Student Wellness Center is providing the Couch 2 5k program for students. Fifty-two students are involved in the program this year, while approximately 15 students participated last year. Psychology freshman Emily Garner said she joined the program to strengthen her endurance. “I’ve definitely noticed a change since I started the program,” Garner said. “I’ve been doing martial arts for more than half of my life, but running is a different playing field for me.” Couch 2 5K consists of three workouts per week. After several weeks into the schedule, participants are provided with meet-ups, which are intended to help students find others with similar running abilities. Amanda Smith, assistant director of the Student Wellness Center, said that when students first start the program they could feel intimidated, so the Wellness Center offers students a few weeks to get acquainted with the workouts before providing meet-ups.
“Giving them a couple weeks to start this program on their own helps them to build a little confidence,” Smith said. The program’s main purpose is to instill confidence and provide guidance for the students, who may not deem themselves physically fit. It also prepares students who want to participate in the Homecoming 5K, which takes place on Nov. 13. “When students see the word couch, it tells them that they don’t have to have any abilities whatsoever,” Smith said. “Then they see 5k, which is very trendy right now so a lot of students want to be able to run it.” Although the program primarily markets towards students with little experience in fitness, it also attracts a wide variety of students with greater fitness and skill levels. The program introduces exercises for students unfamiliar with fitness workouts and provides guidance for students who are regular 5K runners looking to claim new goals. Garner said that she considers herself a mildly active person. She said that this program, which slowly increases the level of each workout, has helped her become a better runner and self-motivator. “Some people think running is just some aimless physical activity, but it actually challenges your mind, body and soul,” Garner said. “Therefore, whether you love running or absolutely despise it, I’d recommend this program.”
CC-BY KREEPIN DETH/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
By avoiding the typical documentary concert-movie setup, “Metallica Through the Never” gives audiences the true feeling of attending a live Metallica rock concert. The movie is now showing in theaters and IMAX.
‘Metallica Through the Never’ lacks narrative, but offers live-band experience SHYAM VENDANTAM COMMENTARY
“Metallica Through the Never” achieves a compelling concert-movie formula and is about as close as possible movies can get to recreating the concert experience. “Metallica Through the Never” is a byproduct of a new
trend in Hollywood: Taking famous bands or popstars, such as Katy Perry, One Direction or the cast of “Glee,” and using multiple cameras to record their concerts, creating a movie experience. The film had a limited release to certain IMAX theaters on Sept. 27 and a wide release on Oct. 4. Unfortunately, many of these movies are just barely considered cinema. A concert venue and a movie theater
Grand Theft Auto V breaks industry record with more than $800M in day-one sales, rises from humble beginnings JOSEPH MANCUSO Mercury Staff
A Grand Theft Auto V illustration depicts one of the many missions players can expect to navigate in the open-world game. The record-breaking one-day sale of GTA V was more than $800 million, beating the previous record by more than $300 million.
After months of hype and years of waiting, “Grand Theft Auto V” was released to North American gamers on Sept. 17. The game puts players in the shoes of various fictional criminals who are able to drive any vehicle and operate any weapon. Developed by Rockstar North and published by Rockstar Games, Grand Theft Auto V was released for the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 and has grossed more than $800 million after just one day of being on sale. This beat the previous record of $500 million set by Call of Duty: Black Ops II for day-one sales. Grand Theft Auto, or GTA, has come a long way since its humble 1997 beginnings. What was once a birds-eye-view game with a notorious focus on carjacking has become a realistic
third-person shooter with an engaging story and world players can explore at their leisure. “You are dealing with something that has a heavy narrative aspect but also provides a sandbox for very open-ended, exploratory play,” said Monica Evans, Arts & Technology associate professor, via email. “Those two things together make the game quite appealing, with the potential to both create meaningful, emotional moments within a constructed narrative and personally meaningful moments in the more open-ended space.” Record sales numbers are backed up by stellar reviews; Metacritic gave the game a 97 out of 100 after taking into account the views of 50 different critics. Most critics and gamers point to features such as Rockstar’s “iFruit” smartphone companion app, which allows gamers to take their GTA experience with them on
OCT. 7, 2013
A Grand Theft Auto V gaming screenshot highlights the level of action and image clarity. GTA V’s open-world environment makes it an attractive sell to gamers looking for full freedom in play.
the go, and GTA Online, where as many as 16 players can explore the fictional city of Los Santos together. “Students in my classes will very likely be required to play GTA V at some point,” Evans said. “I assume many of our students will be playing together.” That’s not to say the game has been without its problems. There were reports that the vehicles parked in various in-game garages would disappear sporadically, and the servers that power GTA Online have been unreliable since the online feature launched.
Players in GTA Online often were unable to connect to the servers and, when players are able connect, glaring graphical glitches have been reported. Rockstar Games has announced that it has begun working on a patch to fix the disappearing vehicles and more players have been able to sign into the GTA Online service. Other aspects of the game have stirred controversy. In one of the missions, a torture scene is depicted that is thought to echo the use of torture by the U.S. government. Reviewers felt that the scene, while effective satire, was overly violent and in poor taste. Arts & Technology junior Michael Payte said he thought the violence could actually help students.
“Violent video games provide a cathartic outlet for stress in a completely safe environment; nobody can get hurt if the objects … exist entirely within a virtual environment,” he said. “The game provides students with a long-lasting source of entertainment and stress-relief, the latter of which can be vital to have during school.” A PC version of the game has been rumored to be in the works, and a petition on Change.org requesting a PC version of the game has already garnered nearly 600,000 signatures, but there has been no confirmation from the publisher. GTA V sells for about $60 and is available at most major retailers.
are not equivalent. People don’t yell and sing along to the lyrics at a theater. Where you are in relation to the band at a concert venue is completely different to how close up these cameras are recording the artists. In short, the experience usually doesn’t translate. The movie itself doesn’t offer much in terms of narrative. Instead of following in the footsteps of its predecessors, “Metallica Through the Never” forgoes the documentary style and offers a linear experience of listening to songs back-to-back. It is a live-band experience, and under the direction of Nimród Antal, he gets it right. The film reflects what a concert would actually be like, which streamlines the movie. Antal intercuts this with a minor subplot that centers on Dane DeHaan (“Chronicle,” “The Place Beyond the Pines”). He plays Trip, a roadie who is sent to retrieve something from the inner, supposedly deserted city for the band. He has to go on foot after
Members from the Vietnam Student Association and the Vietnamese International Network of Culture, Education and Friendship collaborated in a flash mob performed during a Viet Week event on Oct.1. Viet Week was held to celebrate Vietnamese culture and pride.
a car crash and runs into rioters led by a man in black on a horse. None of this is particularly important — the audience is even reminded that it was never specified what exactly he was sent out for. DeHaan has a wordless performance but because he is an amazing young talent, he is able to portray enough through his body language and facial expressions. This all functions to give the movie time to breathe. These breaks allow the audience to get pumped for each new song. Filmed with 24 cameras, the movie films Metallica’s touring concert in Vancouver and Edmonton. The concert itself has pyrotechnics, Tesla coils, lasers, panels that get illuminated with projections and many other stage special effects. The band itself isn’t overpowered though. It’s obvious these guys are pros at heavymetal and that they are some of the fathers of the genre. The movie goes through their hits in the three decades they have been influencing the direction of music. As any Metallica fan knows, the music doesn’t care for censorship.
The movie is rated R for its language and some of the violent action scenes through the unnamed dark city. There are some gruesome, end-of-days type violence scenes in the city. The IMAX, 3D and surround sound are the technical aspects that really push this movie over the top. It’s all executed extremely well. This complements the hard rock of Metallica’s albums. The sound is loud and encompassing and vibrates the body, while the 3D IMAX experience gives the audience better seats than anything a concert venue could offer. “Metallica Through the Never” is a niche film for its fan base. If there was ever a movie that could be better than seeing a band live, this one would be it. Any Metallica fan is obligated to see this movie — it relives the glory days of the band and is an epic experience. People unfamiliar with the band and who aren’t fans of metal rock won’t miss out. The movie set out to be a great experience for its fans and does exactly that (and not much more). 6.5/10
OCT. 7, 2013
Soccer star breaks record Comets win straight Michael Darrow’s 42nd career goal allowed him to pass the previous scoring record that stood for eight years; now with 44 goals, Darrow looks ahead
sets in two matches
SHAUN MOHAMED Mercury Staff
UTD Soccer forward Michael Darrow broke the program’s record for alltime leading scorer with his goal against Pomona-Pitzer College in California on Sept. 22. The goal — the 42nd of his career — came in the second half of the game off an assist from junior forward and midfielder Omar Jaroun, allowing Darrow to pass the previous 8-year-old record of 41 goals held by Ali Morshedi. “It feels pretty awesome,” Darrow said. “Honestly, I’m happy it’s over with, and I can move on and just focus on the next game.” For Darrow, a biomedical engineering senior, the coaches, team, his trainer and almost everyone involved with the soccer team have helped him establish this record. “(The team is) playing very well together,” Darrow said. “I couldn’t make any goals without them.” This is not Darrow’s first major achievement. Last year alone he broke the record for the most goals in a season (19 goals), was named the American Southwest Conference offensive player of the year, tied the record for most goals in a game (4 goals) and was named ASC offensive player of the week. He currently has made 44 goals and 12 assists in his career at UTD. Darrow has been playing soccer since he was four years old and began playing for a club in seventh grade, leading to a lifelong love of the sport. As a child, Darrow idolized LA Galaxy’s Landon Donovan but as he grew up he started to love Gareth Bale and the English Premier League’s Tottenham Hotspurs. Next year, he will be rooting for USA in the World Cup, but also paying special attention to Brazil, he said. In May, Darrow went to Brazil to play on the USA D-3 teams against other under-22 clubs that represented 19 universities from three different countries. Darrow said the opportunity was absolutely amazing. “It was definitely worth it, and I hope to be able to travel to more countries and
MERCURY FILE PHOTO
The team won straight sets against Sul Ross to continue the winning streak, but lost its first conference game of the season against Mary Hardin-Baylor. The women bounced back, however, with a win against Concordia-Texas.
Volleyball team hits both high and low notes during second weekend of conference season PARTH SAMPAT Mercury Staff
Breaking the record for all-time leading scorer is just one of Darrow’s achievements at UTD. He also broke the record for most goals in a season, tied for most goals in a game and was named the ASC offensive player of the year last season.
play soccer,” he said. Over the years, Darrow grew into his role as an athlete. As target forward, he would make it easier for his teammates to score by getting good position, passing the ball and breaking the zone defense. “I try to use my skills to my advantage,” Darrow said. “I try to capitalize on every-
thing that works for me and put myself into the best situations.” It’s the little things during practice that help, he said. Everything from passing the ball around with other teammates to practicing kicking the ball betters Darrow’s
After an undefeated start in the opening weekend of the conference, the volleyball team split the second weekend with two wins and a loss on Sept. 27 and 28. The Comets continued their winning streak on Sept. 27 with a straight sets win against host Sul Ross State 25-14, 25-10, 25-8. Junior outside hitter Taylour Toso displayed a flawless performance with 10 kills, a .625 percent hit, while adding four blocks and two digs. Sophomore outside hitter Meredith Crawford, who was announced the American Volleyball
Coaches Association National Player of the week for NCAA Division III, added five kills. Sophomore outside hitter Abbie Barth finished the night with four kills. “It felt very satisfying (to win the award),” Crawford said. “The only way that I could have won was if the team played well as a whole, so it felt good to know that our team is doing well enough to put me in that position in order for me to get that award.” Crawford was also named the American Southwest Conference Offensive Player of the Week. Crawford is the fourth Comet to be awarded the national
Women’s soccer opens conference season with win
Team comes out on top in tough match against Howard Payne University to score winning goal during last few minutes MADISON MCCALL Mercury Staff
The women’s soccer team opened its conference season with a 1-0 win against Howard Payne University on Sept. 26. The game was a back-and-forth struggle as the Comets attempted to take the lead until finally there was a breakthrough and the crowd roared a unamious whoosh in response to the winning score. The game had 27 shots, 11 of which were close to the net but blocked by Howard Payne’s defense. In the last few minutes, junior defender Jasmine Chipps was moved up to forward and scored the winning goal off a corner kick from junior forward Carli Beckett. “We played well and battled through the entire game,” said head coach John Antonisse. “Ultimately, we got a fantastic goal.” The following game on Sept. 28 was a tedious match against Hardin-Simmons University that ended with a tough loss.
With only four shots made, the game ended with a score of 5-1 after almost five hours due to two lengthy breaks while waiting for the storm and lightning to subside. “The only thing we need to get better at is finishing our chances and just putting the ball in the back of the net,” Antonisse said. Junior forward Sarah Borg made the only goal of the game in the sixteenth minute off a cornerkick from Beckett. The rest of the shots were not enough to push the Comets into a win. During the last minute of the first half, Hardin-Simmons got their first goal and continued to the put pressure on during the second half. Senior goalie Brittany Best played the entire game and saved nine of the 15 shots on goal made by Hardin-Simmons. The Comets have had a bumpy start to the season with six losses out of nine nonconference games but there are still more opportunities to come. The next home game is at 5 p.m. on Oct. 17 against Mary-Hardin Baylor.
The women’s first conference season game ended with a late winning goal on Sept. 26. The Comets battled Hardin-Simmons on Sept. 28, but struggled to get the ball in the net, losing 5-1. The next home game takes place Oct. 17 against Mary Hardin-Baylor.
Men’s soccer scores huge win against Howard Payne Comets start season strong with 10-0 game, fail to break out of draw with Hardin-Simmons despite double over-time PARTH SAMPAT Mercury Staff
The men’s soccer team started their conference with a massive 10-0 win against Howard Payne on Sept. 26 and a 0-0 draw against Hardin-Simmons on Sept. 28 at home. The team (7-0-2, 1-0-1 ASC) was off to a characteristic start against Howard Payne, maintaining possession and passing
the ball around well. They worked the ball around to create plenty of chances to score but failed to capitalize on any of them. The Yellow Jackets’ goalkeeper did well between the sticks in the first half to make seven saves. The Comets broke the deadlock at 31:01 when senior forward Michael Darrow crossed a ball from the right to junior midfielder Travis White, who drilled the shot past Young for his first goal of the season.
“We were creating chances but we weren’t able to give it the finishing touch,” head coach Jason Hirsch said. “Their goalkeeper actually came out and made a couple of really good saves, and we mishit a few balls that we should have put on the target.” The Comets took 32 seconds into the second half to score the second goal of the match. It was Darrow again, who set up senior forward Antonio Rodriguez with a cross from the left, and Rodriguez made no
mistake one-on-one with the goalkeeper and slotted the ball into the net. The Comets kept knocking at the Yellow Jackets’ door and 20 minutes later, the floodgates opened with a goal from junior midfielder Omar Jaroun at 67:36, off a corner kick from White. Darrow then scored two goals in five minutes to take the tally to five. He was assisted by sophomore midfielder Lukas Teese on both goals. Darrow was substituted with sophomore
forward Michael Matthews at the 74 minute mark. It took Matthews all of 11 minutes after coming on to score his first career hat-trick. The first two goals came 1:26 apart from each other. Darrow attributed the second-half goal scoring frenzy to some advice Hirsch gave the team at half-time. “It was just a matter of fact of finding
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out how their defense was playing,” Darrow said. “(Hirsch) pointed out where their weakest points were and where we needed to attack. Then we went toward the outside of the field and utilized our wingers.” The Comets had five goals scored by their substitute players, which goes a long way to show the quality of the team. Sophomore forward J.T. Hawkins and junior midfielder Will Collins also found the net after coming from the bench. “We have been working out a lot and it just shows for our team that not just our first 11 guys can get the job done. Obviously, we have depth to our team,” Darrow said. The men finished the night with 41 shots, while they restricted their opponents to three shots in the entire match, all of which came in the first half. Senior goalkeeper Steven Nicknish recorded another clean sheet, playing for 80 minutes. He did not face a lot of problems, having to save only one shot. The Comets were held to a goalless draw in a double-overtime tie by Hardin-Simmons. The Comets were stopped by the rock-solid defense of
the Cowboys. They managed to get away only three shots in the first period but were able to put up a better performance in the second half with 11 shots. The best chance to win the match came when the team was awarded a penalty for a foul on Darrow. A ball played through by junior forward Casey Cooper was picked up by Darrow and he was clipped by a defender as he moved into the six-yard box, re-
sulting in a spot-kick. Senior midfielder Bryan Shiba stepped up to the plate to take a penalty, but the spot-kick was brilliantly stopped by the Cowboys’ goalkeeper. “I wouldn’t say anything went wrong. Hardin-Simmons is a very hard team,” Hirsch said. “They play a very physical style. They put a lot of pressure on. We still created a few chances but just couldn’t put one in.” Matthews was awarded the ASC’s
Co-Offensive Player of the Week award for his performance in the two matches. Nicknish was awarded the Defensive Player of the Week award for two clean sheets. In a poll by National Soccer Coaches Association of America, the Comets were ranked at no. 12 in Division III on Oct. 1, moving one spot up since the last poll. The team will face LeTourneau on Oct. 11 and UT Tyler on Oct 12.
award. She won the award for her stellar performance in the opening weekend, where she averaged 3.23 kills per set, 2.23 digs per set and a hitting percent of .398. “Meredith is a good leader and a good player,” head coach Marci Sanders said. “It’s nice to have her on the floor. It’s like an extension of the coaching staff out there.” The Comets finished the night with a .275 hitting percent. The Lady Lobos, who have yet to record a win in the conference, finished the night with a measly -.234 hitting percent. The team, however, faced a reality check when they lost their first conference match to Mary HardinBaylor 19-25, 25-10, 21-25, 25-12,
13-15. The Comets put up a staunch performance against Mary Hardin-Baylor with five players scoring doubledigit kills. Freshman middle blocker Holyn Handley led the Comets with 17 kills, followed by Toso and Crawford with 12 kills each. Freshman libero Mary Speights and Barth led the Comets with 25 digs each. “I got outcoached. I made a bad decision going into the match, and I made a bad decision into the fifth set,” Sanders said. “Inevitably, it just came down to (that); they outplayed us when it came to playing defense.” The opponents created some digs and the hitters weren’t able to put the ball away, Sanders said. The team was a little undisciplined toward the end of the match in regards to what the coaching staff wanted them to do. In spite of the loss, the Comets
were the better team, outscoring their opponents 65-40 in kills, 105-98 in digs and 76-65 in overall points. “We won the second and fourth set by significant amounts, so we are doing a lot of good things,” Crawford said. “It’s good that we know that when we are playing well, we are really playing well. But whenever we get beat, we only get beat by a couple of points. So, we know that we are better.” The women finished the night with a .253 hit percent and restricted their opponents to .151. The Comets closed the Sept. 2728 weekend on a high with another straight sets win against ConcordiaTexas recording a score of 25-19, 26-24, 25-17. The Comets put up a below-par performance in the opening two sets with a hit percent of .111 and .137. However, they found their
rhythm in the third set and finished it with a hit percent of .222 as a team. Concordia-Texas finished the match with a poor hit percent of .053. Toso led the Comets with 10 kills, followed by Crawford and Handley with nine kills each. Sophomore setter Kayla Jordan led with 23 assists, followed by freshman setter Bethany Werner with 10 assists. The team recorded another straight sets win over Southwestern in a non-conference tie on Oct. 3, as they finished the night 25-20, 25-22, 25-21. The Comets extended their home winning streak to 11 matches. So far, the team has conceded only three sets at home this season. The team took quick control of the match taking a lead at 4-1. They never conceded the lead but faced tough competition from their opponents toward the end of the set.
MERCURY FILE PHOTO
The men recorded 41 shots, while restricting Howard-Payne to just three shots on Sept. 26. The team struggled to match Hardin-Simmons’ defense, however, and ended the game in a draw on Sept. 28.
performance in games. “It’s something that I’m never going to give up,” Darrow said. “Even if I am an old man playing for a 40-year-old league, I’ll be there.” As for Darrow’s future in soccer, he can go as far as he wants to go, said men’s soccer coach Jason Hirsch. “He’s a difference maker. He’s done very well with us and we’re happy to have him on our side,” Hirsch said. But for Darrow, soccer is not the only focus in his life. “I came here to get a degree,” he said. “I didn’t choose something simple. I chose something that I would be interested in so that later I could pursue that and find a career.” Darrow has been working at the biomedical microdevices and nanotechnology laboratory at UTD since the summer. The project he’s working on involves microfluidics and cancer. “It’s really difficult and I’m really busy, but it’s fun,” he said.
However, they wrapped up the set 25-20. The second set was a close affair as the Pirates took an early lead at 6-3 before the Comets chipped the lead away to tie the score at 8-8 and then going on to take a lead at 10-8. The Pirates tied the score twice at 10-10 and 11-11, but the Comets took an unassailable lead and finished the set 25-22. The third set played a similar tune with the opponents trying to win the set to extend the match, while the Comets were looking to close the match. The two teams exchanged leads a few times before the team extended their lead to five points at 14-9. At this point, the opponents found their game, and a couple of good points along with a few errors saw the Pirates level the set at 14-14 and then take the lead.
“It’s interesting to learn about.” In addition to being on the soccer team and working in the lab, Darrow is also on the Student Athlete Advisory Committee, or SAAC. SAAC is responsible for setting up volunteer opportunities for athletes and helping with NCAA legislation. Darrow also enjoys camping, mountain biking, Frisbee golf and learning about new things in technology. As for the team as a whole, the Comets have not lost a single game this season so far, with the current record at 7-0-2. Darrow said he is excited for the rest of this season. “We’re playing very well,” he said. “We strive to play good soccer. We keep the ball on the ground, pass it around and keep it in their half of the field. We try to hold possession of the game.” Because of this, Darrow said the team is able to get many chances to score. “I think all my teammates, all of my coaches over the years, my trainer and all of my friends won the record,” he said. “It wasn’t me. It was everyone.”
The momentum moved in the favor of Southwestern as they extended their lead to 20-17, before the Comets managed to turn the game around and equalize the set at 20-20. They took the lead and allowed the Pirates to score just one more point and completed the set at 25-21. Barth led the team with 13 kills, followed by Toso and Crawford with 9 kills each. Jordan maintained her fine assist skills with 35 assists in the match. The Comets finished the night with a hit percent of .239 and restricted their opponents to a hit percent of .147. The Comets will face Southwestern Assemblies of God in a non-conference home game on Oct. 8 and resume their conference tour against East Texas Baptist and LeTourneau on Oct. 11 and Mississippi College and UT-Tyler on Oct. 12 at Tyler.
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OCT. 7, 2013
Hats - New Guy
by Emily Grams
by Miguel Perez
by Rahat Ahmed
by Lillian Raemsch
by Varun Kumar
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stirring interest in Silk Road, which was then in its beginning stages. That someone was found to have been Ulbricht, after a post written eight months later on Bitcoin Talk under the “altoid” username directed persons interested in joining a Bitcoin startup company to send replies to firstname.lastname@example.org. The FBI was able to confirm from Google that the email account was registered to a Ross Ulbricht. Ulbricht was also linked to an attempt to run a hidden website through Tor, the server known to have hosted Silk Road in what’s known as the “Dark web,” or websites that can’t be accessed through normal web browsers.
In March 2012, Ulbricht posted a question to a website called Stack Overflow, asking a question related to writing a computer code for a web server in a Tor hidden service. The username, which was originally Ross Ulbricht, was changed less than one minute after the question was posted, according to the criminal complaint. Furthermore, U.S. Customs and Border Protection intercepted a package from Canada sent to San Francisco in July containing nine counterfeit IDs — each with a different name but the same photo. The CBP visited the address on the package, found Ulbricht at the residence and matched him to the photo on the fake IDs, as well as the Google+ profile photo connected to the email@example.com account. The evidence pointing to Ulbricht as the operator of Silk Road paints a
far different picture from the student he was at UTD. According to Ulbricht’s LinkedIn profile, he attended UTD from 2002 to 2006 with an Academic Excellence Scholarship, College of Engineering Scholarship and Nanotech Institute Scholarship while majoring in physics. Indeed, a Nanotech webpage from 2005 showed photos of Ulbricht as part of the UTD delegation to a conference hosted at Rice University. His name was also listed under the Former Students section of the Nanotech Institute. Any mention of Ulbricht on UTD pages were either updated to remove his name, or taken down completely following his arrest. Ulbricht appeared in federal court in San Francisco on Oct. 4, where his attorney said Ulbricht denied all charges. The hearing was then postponed to Oct. 9.
Nanotech Institute’s research lab developing advanced solar panel technology with carbon fiber nanotubes. He attended Pennsylvania State University in 2006 on a highly selective fellowship to study material sciences. Both Austin natives, they lost touch after graduating, but Arnold said he spent time with Ulbricht in 2012, shortly before Ulbricht moved to San Francisco. “We caught the third Batman movie, and we spent some time actually talking about currency and just economics. He was pretty political; I guess you’d say kind of a libertarian,” Arnold said. “He was very interested in using technology to promote alternative ways to enhancing freedoms, all
that stuff.” Arnold said he and Ulbricht would go camping often and he recalls Ulbricht’s love for the outdoors. He first heard news of Ulbricht’s arrest from a mutual friend and said it felt surreal to see pictures of him and Ulbricht at their old apartment. Arnold was shocked upon learning of Ulbricht’s charges but said that the charges connecting him to Silk Road as Dread Pirate Roberts made more sense. “Silk Road is a place where you can exchange bitcoins for goods and services, and that itself does not surprise me because that’s kind of in keeping with Ross,” Arnold said. “He was always interested in markets and ways to let people do business without what he saw as government interference.” Indeed, Ulbricht’s LinkedIn profile includes a summary of his plans to use
the market to solve social problems. “I want to use economic theory as a means to abolish the use of coercion and aggression amongst mankind,” the summary said. “Just as slavery has been abolished most everywhere, I believe violence, coercion and all forms of force by one person over another can come to an end.” Arnold said the ***Forbes*** interview with Dread Pirate Roberts has elements that seemed to match Ulbricht’s characteristics. “He always had a focus on technology, entrepreneurship, economics, helping people pursue their dreams without what he saw as government coercion,” Arnold said. “A lot of the stuff in the ***Forbes*** interview touched on that. He was a great guy, I hope that he’s doing as well as can be expected. I hope he makes it through all of this.”
“Silk Road was completely inaccessible unless you were funneling your Internet connection through Tor, meaning everyone connected to Silk Road was theoretically anonymous,” said a former Silk Road user who wished to remain anonymous. Tor is an acronym for “The Onion Router,” a web browser that uses a technology known as onion routing. The technique was patented by the U.S. Navy in 1998 and involves sending packets of data through layers of encryption before reaching its destination. The anonymity was for both the buyer and seller’s protection; if one wanted to harm the other, it would be nearly impossible for them to determine the other’s identity. “You don’t have to worry about meeting someone you don’t know or risk getting hurt, robbed or caught up in drug politics,” the Silk Road user said. “You don’t have to worry about getting a dangerous substance, as far as dangerous and drugs go, because sellers (on Silk Road) have a reputation
that is publicly viewable.” Some independent groups would even go so far as to buy products from Silk Road and lab test them to ensure quality, safety and purity of the drugs. This quality control stands in stark contrast to some street-vendor drugs, which are cut with substances to dilute the drug and stretch profits, the Silk Road user said. For example, street dealers might cut cocaine with anything from flour to rat poison, making the drug more harmful for the user. Users could buy almost anything from Silk Road — not just drugs — including counterfeit documents and hackers-for-hire. However, making a purchase using credit or debit payments leaves behind information that can be easily traced back to the buyers or sellers. To stay hidden, transactions on Silk Road used Bitcoins, or BTC, a high-value currency as anonymous as cash. “Bitcoin is an electronic, decentralized, cryptographic currency,” said Daniel Leeper, Arts & Technology sophomore and Bitcoin enthusiast. “Which is more or less a fancy way of saying an encrypted form of money that has no central authority.” When the federal government
seized the Silk Road servers, they also seized Bitcoins associated with Silk Road leader Dread Pirate Roberts: 27,000 BTC valued at nearly $3.6 million. Immediately following the seizure, a Bitcoin address had just over 27,000 BTC transferred to it. This address is believed to be the address used by the federal government to store the seized assets. Many Silk Road supporters have made small donations to the address, often less than a thousandth of a Bitcoin, and used the opportunity to post messages decrying the actions of the federal government. “They’ll say we’re disturbing the peace, but there is no peace. What really bothers them is that we are disturbing the war,” one supporter posted, quoting Howard Zinn, the famed American social activist. While Silk Road has been shut down, other online black markets persist. Black Market Reloaded and Sheep Marketplace are some of the deep web sites that have been filling the gap left in Silk Road’s absence, and other users turn back to the streets for their drugs. Additional reporting done by Lillian Raemsch
Dot Moneypak voucher while staying on the phone at all times. He was then asked to read out the voucher number on the card, return to campus and fill out a form online. While filling out the form he realized it pertained to permanent residency, and that’s when Iyengar said he began questioning the callers. He managed to flag down a UTDPD patrol car and handed his phone over to the patrol officer who asked for the caller’s credentials, at which point the caller hung up. By 3:15 p.m. Iyengar had placed a call to his bank to stop the money transfer to the voucher, but the amount had already been withdrawn and disbursed from the receiver’s account, so that he was able to recover only $200. Of the two callers, the first man posing as a police officer had an American accent, and the man posing as a Homeland Security employee had an Indian accent. Iyengar isn’t the only one to have been scammed this way. Two students who had transferred money after a fake call from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, or USCIS, notified the International Student Services Organization, or ISSO, in late September, said Cristen Casey, director of ISSO. ISSO sent out an email on Sept. 24 notifying all international students of the scam, containing a note from the National Association of Foreign Student Advisers, or NAFSA, that specified that international students nationwide were being targeted by scammers claiming to be from USCIS on the phone. The email cautioned students to hang up if they were to receive such a call. If students do end up falling for the scam and losing money, they should report to the police immediately, Casey said. As of now, it is unclear who is behind the scams, and universities have not been notified of any further developments by NAFSA, she said. “There hasn’t been any statement that (the scammers) are targeting a particular group,” Casey said. Abhishek Basu, a computer science engineering graduate student from India, received a similar call early September. Awakened by a call from an official USCIS phone number, he too was threatened with deportation within 24 hours due to incomplete information in his I-94, unless he immediately paid a fine of $781 through Western Union wire transfer. Basu spoke to three individuals, although he was unsure if the three were the same individual speaking in different voices. Of them, one had an American accent, while the other two had distinctly Indian accents. He was asked to walk to the nearest Western Union, which happened to be in the CVS on Campbell Road, and transfer the money, without hanging up at any time. While he was walking to CVS, Basu started questioning the validity of the call and demanded they divulge his social security number in order to prove they were from
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USCIS. When they were unable to do so, he hung up despite repeated threats that if he did, he would be deported. Basu called the number back and was directed to USCIS where he filed a complaint notifying USCIS of the scam. “I received two calls from the police afterwards, asking me to confirm the series of events and if I remembered the names of any of the callers,” Basu said. “Although they had given me their names, all I remembered was the name of the solicitor who was apparently handling the case on behalf of the American Embassy in New Delhi.” Both Basu and Iyengar agreed that had they been aware of similar cases before, it would have saved them a lot of trouble and possibly money. It was only a few days after he received the call that his friend from the State University of New York, Buffalo, also received a similar phone call, Iyengar said. Both students stressed the need for ISSO to make new incoming students aware of the scam in orientation sessions next year, as well as a need for international students to be aware of the conditions under which they may be deported. The issue will be covered in the mandatory international orientations next year, Casey said, and depending on student demand, might even warrant a separate awareness session during the year. “I think USCIS also needs to maintain secured telephone lines, because the call I received was from a valid USCIS number,” Basu said. While relating the events of the morning, it is easy to recognize the call as a scam in hindsight, he said, yet at that moment in time, panic overpowered his better judgment as the threat of deportation is likely to do to any international student. Iyengar, meanwhile, has put a hold on all his accounts and cards, as he awaits results from the police investigation as well as an independent fraud claim investigation conducted by his bank. He hopes to be able to recover some of the lost money from his bank’s fraud insurance even as he moves on with his life, treating this as a lesson well learned and thankful it wasn’t identity theft, Iyengar said.