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12:22pm on Saturday, 22nd July, 2006:

Graduation Day


It was graduation day yesterday at Essex (well, the third of three, but the one in which students I taught graduated). Last year I missed the ceremony, but this year I turned up. Most lecturers abhor the ceremony, and only come along for the free sandwiches and strawberries at the reception that follows, but I own my own gowns (having bought them in response to my wife's blowing money on her wedding dress) so I leap at any opportunity to wear them.

It was a baking hot day, and there's no air conditioning in the lecture theatre where the ceremony takes place. I must have lost half a stone in weight. Next year's ceremony will be in the new lecture theatre block being built, which will have air conditioning, so it ought to be more endurable. Then again, it'll seat twice as many people so the ceremony will last twice as long, and the danger that I'll nod off half way through will be greatly increased.

One of the highlights of the graduation ceremony is reading the weird names that some of the students have. I'm sure that for Berk Sencer, jokes about his forename will be water off a duck's back by now. For Faiyaz Doctor, however, the torment is just beginning: his award of PhD means he's now Doctor Doctor.

We had a name alert for the games course graduates, as one of them has the surname Tyc. No-one knew how to pronounce it, and yet the Dean has to read it out. Is it tick or tyke? It turns out it's pronounced like twice except without the w. I went around asking some of the other students how to pronounce their surnames, in case what looked easy turned out hard (Pain pronounced pan as if it were French for bread or something). Fortunately, there weren't any other anomalies. I was particularly sensitive to this, as when I graduated the first name of my best friend, Ulin, was read out as ull-in, whereas it should have been you-lin. That just about summed up the university's attitude to him: a series of ASCII characters in a whitespace-separated list, rather than a person. I didn't want any of "my" students this year to suffer such an indignity.

There are other problems with names. At the ceremony in which I got my BSc, a postgraduate student from the Far East had the surname Fuk. The Dean, Professor Brooker, who had to read out the name, was alarmed that it may be pronounced fuck. Upon investigation, it turned out that actually yes, it really was pronounced fuck. It was a venerable name of which the student was very proud, and he was not at all happy when it was suggested that perhaps the Dean ought to pronounce it like fluke without the l. Fuck it was, and fuck it should remain, he said. Come the moment, though, the Dean bottled out and went with fluke-minus-l. The now Dr Fuk was not happy.

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Copyright © 2006 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).