UT-Dallas Has Purged Alleged Silk Road Mastermind Ross Ulbricht from Its Website

RossUlbricht2.jpg
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During his four years as an undergrad at UT-Dallas, Ross Ulbricht earned a handful of mentions on the school's website. His name appeared on a list of students at the NanoTech Institute, on a 2004 press release about students competing in an academic tournament, on a handful of research papers he co-authored while working in professor John Ferraris' physics lab.

Since last week, when federal authorities arrested the 29-year old for allegedly masterminding the online drug bazaar Silk Road, that's all disappeared. Google can still find traces of him on UTD's website, but the links are either dead or they lead to pages, like the list of NanoTech students, from which Ulbricht's name has been purged.

The UTD Mercury -- where, full disclosure, I worked as managing editor in 2009 -- sniffed out the administration's case of willful amnesia and penned an editorial lambasting the university's "scorched-earth approach to public relations" as "irresponsible and reactionary."

See also: Ross Ulbricht, the Founder of the Silk Road Online Drug Bazaar, is a Proud UT-Dallas Grad

In an email, UTD spokesman John Walls defended the deletions.

"The nature of the allegations at hand is severe," he wrote. "The University will not present any content that would imply or lead to an inference that the University supports unlawful behavior."

That argument's pretty thin. No reasonable person would look at the by-all-accounts innocuous references to Ulbricht on UTD's website, all made five to seven years before he is accused of criminal activity, and deduce that the university endorses the sale of illegal drugs through a libertarian global online marketplace. Nor will the school's deletions prevent anyone from discovering Ulbricht's time at UTD, which has been widely reported by now.

It's a pointless exercise, in other words, not so sinister as the Mercury implies, but puzzling nonetheless.

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17 comments
derpderp
derpderp

The oddest thing about this whole story is this guy was 6'2, and weighed 145 lbs!!! I am the same height, and at 180lbs I appear really skinny, in a bad way. That is like holocaust skinny.

Ashley192361984
Ashley192361984

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jamessavik
jamessavik

There's a face just screaming DERP!

CogitoErgoSum
CogitoErgoSum topcommenter

Odd photo there. I didn't realize he was an edentulous, criminal mastermind.

JohnSmallBerries
JohnSmallBerries

What the Mercury ought to do is find snapshots of these pages, recreate them, and post them on the UTD mercury website permanently.

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

They said they did this because they were trying to make sure that they did not appear to condone what he did.  But the history of his work at UTD could not, by any reasonable person, be considered an endorsement of his crimes.

In reality, they're just ashamed of the fact that UTD has a strong, Libertarian population - and that the school does indeed teach them how to commit cyber-crimes.

They're right to be ashamed of who they are and what they've done, but they're wrong to think that they're fooling anyone other than themselves.

thechuckwilliams
thechuckwilliams

nothing like a little due process... if he was wanted for murder, wouldn't they at least wait until the judge pounded the gavel and said Guilty before sweeping him under the rug?

DonnaHarris
DonnaHarris

Despite his criminal activity, he is an alum, While I am not proud of his behavior, I stand by his abilities, that were honed at UTD.  The reality is, MIT, Stanford, UPenn, Harvard, UT, Rice and other schools considered scholarly, have wayward exes?  Attempting to remove all traces of him or his notoriety, is akin to denigrating the collective intelligence of UTD grads and a terrible PR move for the school, in my opinion.  With the right strategy, we could use this incident as an opportunity to showcase UTD as one of the best options to stay in North Texas to attend a university that is as worthy, as any mentioned above. Hiding and pretending isn't the way to do that and it's not what the Comets are all about.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

From the MinTruth -- Ross Ulbricht is an unperson.  Ross Ulbricht is an unstudent at UTD.


Oceana has always been at peace with Eurasia.

Oceana has always been at war with Eastasia.

Opensource
Opensource

@bvckvs You have a point.  Teaching students to think for themselves and adopt social justice was shameful a few centuries ago.   

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

@thechuckwilliams 

They don't appear to be scrubbing the names of convicted murders, rapists or other felons.  So, if you are to take their press release seriously, they do endorse those other, more heinous, felonies.

Sotiredofitall
Sotiredofitall topcommenter

@Geez Harvard couldn't hire an adequate staff to unperson their wayward exes.

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

@Opensource @bvckvs 

Libertarians like this are not in trouble for what they think - they're in trouble for what they do.

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