Note to Self: Use Clean Envelopes

Maybe this is why Harvard never accepted my application: I didn’t use a sufficiently clean envelope.

Emergency crews evacuated an Eastern Illinois University building Friday, after a campus postal carrier discovered a disheveled-looking package heading for the college’s admissions office.

“There was no return address, it was poorly written, poorly addressed to the university, there were misspellings,” school spokeswoman Vicki Woodard said Saturday. “There was some tape over it. Just the overall appearance was rather strange.”

The stuffed-and-stained envelope was strange enough that police alerted the bomb squad.

Explosives investigators X-rayed the package and blocked off a nearby street before they discovered the envelope contained only an application to the 12,500-student school.

Woodard said the application came from somewhere in northern Illinois, but wouldn’t comment on whether the bomb scare would affect the prospective student’s chances of admission.

[via Fox]


  1. I was reminded of the following excerpt (describing the first correspondence from Ramanujan) from C.P. Snow’s forward to A Mathematician’s Apology: “One morning early in 1913, he found, among the letters on his breakfast table, a large untidy envelope decorated with Indian stamps.” He continues to narrate the effort Hardy took along with Littlewood in evaluating the contents of that envelope.
    Given the outcome of that event, I hope the university does not judge by the cover.

  2. franklin stubbs says:

    Given the, ah, exceedingly low probability of finding an undiscovered Ramanujan… a Ramanujan who resides in northern Illinois no less… it seems reasonable to peg the EV (expected value) of such a package at close to zero.
    Maybe the university could create some kind of Ramanujan Algorithm, in which poorly crafted packages are given optionality based on distance of origin from modern civilization.

  3. Rafael Montoya says:

    That is why in previous years usually the Universities will send you an applications package including a clean SASE envelope for the applicant. Now, with a) cost cutting and b) on line applications … what did you expect?