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BREAKING NEWS: Public Thesis Defense to be "Augmented" by Secret Tribunals


By Jeremy Brown, MIT AI Lab:

Following the example set by American President George Bush, MIT President Charles M. Vest announced today that he was granting himself the power to replace an ordinary thesis defense with a secret thesis tribunal. "Just as you entrust all of your civil liberties to the whims of the American President, you now entrust me with your academic and professional future. Rest assured, I will use my very best discretion in deciding who has sucked up to me enough to avoid a thesis tribunal."

At a thesis tribunal, a graduate student will face a hooded committee composed of faculty, janitorial staff, and junior-high students from a nearby school for the deaf and blind. Each committee member will write down several questions on a sheet of paper, which will not be given to the graduate student; if the graduate student does not address every question on the paper in his or her presentation, he or she will, at the very least, fail the defense.

When asked how the tribunal process differed from the Area Exam process, Vest noted three key points:

"First, the professors will all wear black robes and hoods -- essentially, a bad-attitude variant of graduation regalia -- which will make them sweaty and mean.

"Second, each professor has the option of shooting the student dead at any time; we feel that this will ensure short and to-the-point presentations.

"Third, I will personally be a member of every thesis tribunal, so I don't want to hear another peep about graduate student housing, stipends, working hours, working conditions, or anything else, or you'll really get it. Capish?"

At that point, this graduate student reporter slunk away in terror; join him in drowning his fear at tonight's...[AI lab party].

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