University of California, Santa Barbara: Censorship of Student Thesis
At the University of California, Santa Barbara, grad student Christopher Brown was denied a Master's degree for over one year for using language deemed offensive in the preface of his thesis. Brown submitted the thesis, along with his "Disacknowledgments". Told he would not receive a degree unless he removed the language, Brown took out what he considered the offensive writing. When informed by the Dean that he had to eliminate the whole preface in order to receive the degree, despite the fact that his thesis independent of the preface had already been approved, Brown dissented, invoking his First Amendment rights. Threatened with expulsion, Brown turned to FIRE, who informed UCSB that as a public university they could not withhold a degree because of critical comments made about faculty in a separate and personal preface to his thesis. In the end, UCSB relented, and awarded Brown his degree, but only after substituting in an earlier version of the thesis, one without the Disacknowledgments.
- "UCSB Blinks First, But Continues to Censor Thesis: Chris Brown Awarded Degree," June 6, 2000: In a remarkable turn of events the University of California, Santa Barbara, awarded Christopher Brown a Master's degree in Materials Science on May 16. After being denied his degree for more than one year, and after numerous letters and emails from FIRE to UCSB, the university appears to have recognized that it is on the losing side of an open-and-shut First Amendment case.
- "University of California Ignores Its Obligation to Free Speech," May 3, 2000
- "College papers in the western U.S. not necessarily safe from censorship,"
by Robert De Koven, Arizona Daily Wildcat, April 18, 2003
- "Seeking Acknowledgment,"
by Mike Milliard, The Boston Phoenix, October 17, 2002
- "Student’s Suit to Get Thesis in Library Denied,"
American Libraries, May 7, 2001
- "Student's Suit to Add Insults to Thesis Is Denied,"
by Rebecca Trounson, Los Angeles Times, May 1, 2001
- "The Weekly Fix: Who says stupidity is never efficient?,"
Beyond Blonde, June 6, 2000
- "Dissing His Diploma Goodbye?,"
by Mike Miliard, The Boston Phoenix, May 5, 2000
- "Student Endangers Master's Degree With Vitriolic Addition to Thesis,"
The Chronicle of Higher Education, March 17, 2000
- "Freedom Meets License,"
by Debra Saunders, San Francisco Chronicle, February 27, 2000