Dear Dawg: I’m about done with my Master’s Thesis at last! It’s been an ordeal, and I have to say that certain people in the university have been of no help whatsoever. It’s customary for people to include an “Acknowledgement” section at the end of a major piece of work like this, giving recognition to God, mom and dad, my third grade teacher, my barista, my dog…whatever. I was thinking of going in the opposite direction and including a list of “Disacknowledgements.” What do you think? I figure it’s my free speech right to say speak truth to power. Any risk to me in doing this? CALL ME UNGRATEFUL.
DEAR UNGRATEFUL: Yessir, there is some risk. We came across a wonderful case where a guy almost lost his degree from the University of California Santa Barbara for similar behavior. Part of the problem was that the guy was sneaky. He submitted his thesis to his committee with no “acknowledgement” section at all. Got it approved. Then he submitted a “new and improved” version to the university library where all theses were kept. The new version included this:
Disacknowledgements: I would like to offer special F*** You’s to the following degenerates for being an ever-present hindrance during my graduate career.
The list of “degenerates” included the dean and staff of the graduate school, the managers of the library, a former governor of California, and the Board of Regents.
Having been informed of the change to the thesis, the guy’s committee refused to accept the revised version and withheld his well earned Master’s degree. He appealed this through numerous channels within UCSB, and was turned down every time. Finally, he attempted to make a First Amendment case out of it. By this time the University had relented and had given the guy his degree, but it still refused to accept the thesis in the library. So he sued, claiming that his free speech rights were infringed.
He lost. But, at least he was able to embarrass the university by pointing out that it was not completely consistent about its application of professional standards of decorum. It had previously approved a thesis that included the following:
To 1) the dip***ts who decided to put the P-chemists on the forth (sic) floor; 2) the inept facilities management monkey who raised the cooling water pressure and 3) the dumb ass who left his cooling water ON for a laser that was OFF for 2 years and subsequently flooded my lab, desk and my most important files: may your bloated, limb-less bodies wash to shore and be picked clean by seabirds and maggots….
We advise caution, my friend. Save your criticism for later—not in your thesis.
The case is Brown v. Li. 308 F.3d 939 (9th Cir. 2002)
DAWG BONE: NOT A GOOD IDEA TO REFER TO THE DEAN OF THE SCHOOL (OR THE PRINCIPAL!) AS A DEGENERATE BEFORE YOU GET THAT DIPLOMA. LET IT WAIT.
Enjoy the weekend, friends!