FIRE has taken the case of UC Santa Barbara student Christopher Brown. Brown, a graduate student in the Materials Department, was set to graduate last year after the completion of his thesis. He submitted the thesis to the library with a preface that he called “disacknowledgments.” The librarians at UCSB informed the school that Brown’s preface contained unflattering, vulgar, and offensive remarks directed at the school. Upon discovering this, Brown was told he would not be granted a degree unless he removed the “offending” remarks. Brown altered his remarks, removing what he considered to be the offending passages. At this point the school’s Dean informed Brown that in order to be granted his degree he would have to remove the section altogether. Brown refused, invoking his First Amendment rights at a public university. Because of his Disacknowledgments, Brown is on academic probation and may be expelled from UCSB at the end of March.
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