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Fake student spends eight months at Stanford

 

A young woman who hung out on the Stanford campus for eight months posing as a Stanford student has been evicted from the dorm room she was sharing with a real student.

She could face criminal charges and a room-and-board bill of up to $42,000, according the university officials and the Stanford Daily student newspaper.

The university declined to identify the student or release details "because we do not wish to compromise the investigation," Greg Boardman, vice provost for student affairs, said of the impostor. He called the situation "a serious breach of security within the residence halls," adding that a full investigation is underway into how security can be improved.

"Stanford is a remarkably caring and friendly community," Boardman said. "It is unfortunate that some may be able to take advantage of that trust for their own ends."

The Stanford Daily Thursday identified the impostor as Azia Kim, 18, a graduate of the competitive Troy High School in Fullerton, in Orange County. The Daily reported that Kim moved into the dorms during new-student orientation and developed friendships and even found roommates. She pretended she was a sophomore majoring in human biology and bought textbooks and studied with friends, even though she would never take a test, the Daily reported. Kim declined to comment when contacted by the Daily unless the newspaper agreed to withhold her name.

"I think something's definitely wrong with the system if this could happen," Amy Zhou, one of Kim's roommates in the Okada dorm, said of the ruse. Zhou told the Daily she did not feel safe now and felt the university needs to look at its security protocols.

The Daily reported that Kim began her deception Sept. 18, 2006, the day before new-student orientation. She convinced two residents of Kimball dorm that she was a freshman who did not have housing due to a technical mix up. They let her sleep in their room in the 210-resident dorm and she divided her time between her room and the Kimball lounge through most of the fall and winter quarters.

"It's kind of impressive how she was able to figure everything out and trick so many people," a resident assistant at Okada told the Daily.

Without a key or Stanford identification, Kim was forced to sneak into meals and climb into her room at Okada through an unlocked window. Zhou told the Daily that Kim took the screen off the window and always left the windows wide open and the blinds up. "I just guessed she always wanted a breezy room," Zhou said.

The end of the deception began last Sunday when a resident assistant at Okada, Soo Kim, became suspicious and e-mailed campus housing on Monday. Zhou reported that Kim even broke into her e-mail account and deleted e-mails from housing inquiring about Kim being there. Kim pretended to move out early Monday evening but actually hid her clothes in the closet.

The case has been referred the Santa Clara County District Attorney's office for possible trespassing or theft charges. Stanford housing charges unauthorized visitors $175 per day, which would total $42,000 for an eight-month visit. Kim finally took a taxi to an uncle's house in San Jose early Tuesday morning, the Daily reported.

— Palo Alto Weekly staff

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