Whilst you sit in Butler wishing for a perfect storm to disrupt your finals, take comfort in the fact that such miracles can occur.

This morning, the final exam for Physics V1202 (the second required semester of non-engineering general physics) was interrupted by a real live fire alarm in Pupin.

 Or was it?  A prankster was responsible, reports the FDNY, and security is busy examining grainy camera footage trying to find the culprit.  According to our tipster, the plaza outside Pupin turned into a “circus of cheating,” so upon reentrance, the proctors passed out a “backup midterm” to be completed in the remaining time.

Physics department chair Andrew Millis informed the students that due to the “unusual circumstances,” the final would be weighted less heavily in the final course grades.

It all goes to show that studying doesn’t pay.  Full email after the jump.


Photo via Modern Mechanix

Dear students in V1202,

As you know, a fire alarm occurred during the final examination for PHY V1202. We realize that this unfortunate occurrence added a level of disruption to the already stressful experience of taking a final exam, and are writing to let you know what we are doing in response.

The New York City Fire Department has determined that the fire alarms were “maliciously activated by persons unknown”. Tampering with fire alarms is a serious offense. We are working with campus security to prevent a recurrence and to identify the persons responsible.

Because the security of the exam was compromised by the required building evacuation, an alternative exam was distributed. In determining grades the unusual circumstances and abbreviated nature of the exam will be taken into account , and quizzes, midterms and other work will be weighted more heavily. We are confident that from the information available to us we will be able to arrive at an equitable evaluation of your performance in the course.

The deans and academic advisors of Barnard, Columbia College, General Studies and SEAS have been made aware of the situation and happy to meet with you if you would like to discuss the situation further.

With deep regret for this unfortunate incident,

Andrew Millis

Professor and Chair

Department of Physics

Columbia University

538 West 120th Street

NY NY 10027

email: millis@phys.columbia.edu

tel: 212 854 3336

fax: 212 854 3379