19-year-old Harvard arts student Erin Halverson is in critical condition after ingesting toxic levels of smug at a Ted Talk presented by former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd in Massachusetts last week, police and Boston officials say.
In a campus-wide statement released on Saturday, University President Drew Gilpin Faust warned of the dangers of binge consumption of smug and added his name to the list of notable figures calling for a national awareness campaign.
Demi Monette, who attends a “China Post Hu Jintao” tutorial with Halverson has told The (un) Australian that Halverson would have been unlikely to attend if she had known it was a Ted Talk given by Rudd.
“She’s not the sort of person that tends to experiment with this sort of thing. I think some friends must have told Erin it was just a lecture on China’s foreign relations, there’s no way she would have voluntarily gone to a Ted Talk, she’s not a pretentious person at all really.”
Speaking on the incident Harvard Medical Professor Isaac Carmody explained that Monette’s version of events, if true, could account for Halverson’s dire condition.
“That lecture theatre would have, for the large part, contained very experienced Ted Talk goers who had over time built up quite strong tolerance against smug. But if this was Erin’s first time and the speaker was Kevin Rudd then frankly she’s extremely lucky to still be alive.”
Three other students were admitted to hospital overnight with mild illnesses.