Last Thursday, a 27-year-old named Abe Liu was cited by Harvard police for "using a falsified identification card" and warned against trespassing in college dorms. It was apparently the first time he'd encountered the police—but he'd spent the semester posing as a Harvard College freshman, sleeping in friends' dorm rooms and even posing for a fashion feature in The Harvard Crimson, apparently because he "was lonely."

That's what he told the Crimson, at least, in an interview published this morning and spotlighted by Romenesko:

"I understand the position. [Students are] scared. It doesn't make any sense. They feel betrayed," he said. "I made a mistake. My mistake was being lonely."

(Pretty sure your mistake was lying to everyone? But, whatever.) According to "Who Is Abe Liu?" a piece published yesterday by Harvard weekly the Independent, people realized Liu was a Harvard Extension School student, and not a college freshman, by October—but he didn't give up the lying:

Liu wove (and repeatedly re-wove) an elaborate fiction about himself to tell his new friends. At first, he was 22, a freshman who had taken a few years off; then, when his friends began to realize that he was not listed in the Facebook at some point in October, Liu revealed that he was an Extension School student, but one who had graduated from Vanderbilt and claimed to be taking myriad advanced classes at the Medical School while drawing perfectly-construed mathematical models on the whiteboard in Weld Common Room; later, he claimed to be a former Olympian who had played in Beijing for the United States (or China, depending on who he told).

The guy must have been pretty lonely, I guess? By November, Liu had become, of course, the subject of heated discussion on the Harvard Class of 2015 Facebook group, and eventually, someone apparently called the police and reported his "suspicious activity."

Interestingly (?), his position as "that weird Extension School student who's always sleeping in people's rooms" seems to have been something of an open secret, or at least open gossip; now, even after he's been kicked out of the dorms, he's become the fodder for an arcane and irritating newspaper war between the Independent and its larger, daily rival the Crimson. In fact, the Independent piece (whose author, Gary Gerbrandt, notes sternly in his byline that he "has no time for impostors, or for a Harvard which just won't tell its students the truth") seems to imply that its rival, the daily Crimson, was delinquent in reporting on the "scandal" and was maybe even somehow in bed with Liu:

[H] e is rumoured to have participated in the [Crimson's annual] Grand Elections at the beginning of his first Reading Period. [...] On September 29, the Crimson published a photograph of a grinning Liu online, taken from a collection of photos for their Fifteen Minutes weekly magazine, showcasing the fashion sense of the Class of 2015. (The Crimson has since, for reasons unclear, closed down comments on the photograph, which focused on the mysterious origins and identity of Liu; there has been uncharacteristic silence at the newspaper on the controversy.)

Ooooookay. (In the Crimson's interview, which came out a day after the Independent article, Liu "specifically" denies participating in the Grand Elections.) The real action is happening, as always, in the anonymous comments on missed-connection site "I Saw You Harvard":

Posted at 2011-12-14 09:42:07, M spotting F

I saw you... Crimson, giving fewer concrete facts than the Independent as you publish a fluff piece to address a serious issue. I doubt the rest of the student body sympathizes with someone who lied to gain entry to its housing and services just because he was "lonely."


Re: Abe Liugate
Posted at 2011-12-14 01:15:45, M spotting M

I saw you, lunatic conspiracy theorists. I also see The Independent and its heroic investigative journalist Gary getting slapped with a libel suit in the very near future. Gary made a decision to run a story based on zero fact, the Crimson chose not to. No conspiracy there.

Anyway, remember that all these people will someday be running the country.

[Crimson, Independent, I Saw You Harvard all via Romenesko; image via Shutterstock]