A 20-year-old posing as a Rice student was discovered last Tuesday after signing up to participate in an upcoming debate as part of the Baker Institute Student Forum.
Kendrick Alridge planned to represent the Rice Young Democrats against the Rice Conservatives Forum in a debate on March 22 over President Barack Obama's policies and the job market.
The Young Dems added Alridge to their debate team after he expressed a strong interest in participating and joining the club, Hanszen College junior Andrew Pegues said.
"He was really interesting and outspoken and an active discussion member," Pegues said.
However, after his name was seen on the Facebook event page, a history regarding Alridge began to unfold. Jones College junior Devin Glick, who knew Alridge from high school, contacted the debate team and told them he was unsure if Alridge was a Rice student or not.
According to the Registrar's records, Kendrick Alridge is not a Rice student and never has been.
This was not immediately apparent to many students who knew Alridge and believed he was a student.
"There was nothing about him that made me question him," Pegues said. "He is definitely within the standard deviation of a Rice Student."
Alridge told the Young Democrats that he was a Harvard student studying at Rice for a semester and was in Will Rice College but living off campus. However, Alridge was found not to be a Harvard student, Young Democrat and Hanszen College junior Myles Bugbee realized.
The team called RUPD, and Alridge was removed from the event under suspicion, Pegues said. RUPD will also be present at the event.
RUPD declined to give any details due to a pending investigation but at the time of writing had not yet determined any criminal acts and said they had not made contact with Alridge.
"We have the matter under investigation, and for this reason we are not able to release information regarding the matter at the time," Chief of Police Bill Taylor said.
Alridge's history at Rice started in 2007, when Professor of Violin Kenneth Goldsmith realized Alridge may have stolen a violin from the Shepherd School.
"I saw him at Rice in the early evening and noticed later that a violin was missing from one of the practice rooms and suggested he might have taken it," Goldsmith said.
Goldsmith knew Alridge because he taught violin at Houston's High School for the Visual and Performing Arts, which Alridge attended. During high school, Alridge was suspected of stealing things from practices rooms on several occasions, Goldsmith said.
"After I saw him, I called him, and he answered but pretended to be his answering machine," Goldsmith said. "I told him he should return the violin, and half an hour later it was delivered."
During high school, Alridge also applied and was accepted to a prestigious music camp called Madeline Island. However, his acceptance was quickly rescinded after his audition tape was found to be falsified, Goldsmith said.
Alridge's violin talent was questioned again in the summer of 2009 at a camp called Tanglewood, where half way through the program he was found to have faked his audition tape, Will Rice College freshman Angela Guo, who attended the same summer program, said.
"He told us he was going back to Houston to have open heart surgery and then told us he was going to attend Princeton in the fall," Guo said.
Alridge began claiming he was a Rice student in 2009, Wiess College sophomore Emily Nichol, who attended high school with Alridge, said.
Guo had not heard from Alridge until this year's Beer Bike, when he started a Facebook chat conversation with her. During the conversation, Guo accused Alridge of not being a Rice or Harvard student, and he got very defensive, she said.
"He told me, 'You better not do anything, or both of us could get hurt,'" Guo said.
Alridge was also seen at Jones College several times and began to make friends with a few freshman girls there, Guo said.
Guo contacted the Will Rice College masters with her suspicion that Alridge was not actually a student, and they contacted RUPD Monday night.
Baker College junior Cindy Dinh said Alridge contacted her through Facebook about applying for the Truman Scholarship.
"I thought he was a student and always wanted to help," Dinh said.