Edward Snowden confirmed exclusively to The Rectangle this week that he was responsible for leaking the file of student information via the Steinbright Career Development Center last winter term. He claims this was a desperate plea to draw attention to what he sees as Drexel’s institutionalized mistreatment of students.

“I have seen some shit in my day, but nothing like this before,” Snowden said.


Photo Credit: Frank McWeenie

Snowden, known worldwide for being the first person to successfully get a flash drive past the guard dogs in front of the NSA, said many of the same feelings that compelled him to act against the NSA were there for Drexel, too.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, Drexel officials briefed on the situation said that Snowden had been hired as a contractor to consult with the Office of Information Resources & Technology. IRT said it was aware that the arrangement was unconventional, but the office was more worried about the sorts of data breaches that had impacted Target, Neiman Marcus and even the University of Maryland.

“We had seen him on the news, and he was willing to work cheap since he was stuck in that airport in Russia,” a high-ranking IRT official said. “I mean, have you seen how much it costs to buy food at an airport? He was desperate!”

Snowden had agreed to work remotely for Drexel using Moscow Sheremetyevo Airport’s free wifi, and according to Drexel sources he was an extremely valuable resource for the school. But Snowden was disillusioned with the University about a week into his contract.

“I thought that helping a university would be a good way to pass the time at home,” Snowden said, referring to the airport he lived in for 39 days while seeking asylum. “But it became clear pretty quickly that Drexel wasn’t the paragon of higher education that I had been led to believe. The day I came across the tuition bill for a student, I was blown away. I couldn’t understand how Drexel justified what it was doing to its students. Plus, I kept seeing references to something called ‘The Shaft,’ but I was too scared to research it any further.”

Still, Drexel administrators say they are struggling to understand why Snowden leaked a file containing student information, and not, for example, the school’s financials.

“I just don’t get it, he’s only hurt the students by doing this,” said a senior administration official, also speaking on the condition of anonymity. “I mean, we gave him access to everything, he could have leaked a bunch of shit, like the presentation about selling lecture-hall–seat licenses, or the plan for campus toilet fees, but instead he sent out some stupid spreadsheet of GPAs.”

Snowden wouldn’t comment on whether he thinks his actions have had a positive effect on the Drexel community, but The Rectangle spoke to someone who warned the University against the Snowden arrangement in the first place.

“For some reason, I was listed as a reference on Snowden’s resume, and Drexel got in touch when they were considering hiring him. I obviously recommended against it, and it’s turned into a really unfortunate situation,” James Clapper, the U.S. director of national intelligence, said.

Clapper smiled, probably for the first time in months, when giving his reason for why Snowden leaked the file instead of trying to make a productive change to Drexel’s culture from the inside.

“Well, he’s always been kind of a one trick pony.”