Dissertation Elf

There have long been tales of the wise old owls who swoop through the windows of sleeping doctoral students in teh wee hours of the morning to finish their dissertations: new photos suggest that these stories may have basis in fact.
There have long been tales of the wise old owls who swoop through the windows of sleeping doctoral students in the wee hours of the morning to finish their dissertations.

Elf Owls (micathrene whitneyi), the world’s smallest owls, are often spotted perched near lit windows at night; it is generally assumed that they prefer these spots becasue the light draws moths, which then become easy prey. Stories about Elf owls sneaking into open windows to peck wildly at computer keys, leaving finished dissertation chapers behind,  have long been considered urban legend. Graduate students, however, often exibit a child-like belief in these stories, and the owls have become a sort of santa-claus figure for those with writer’s block. A number of graduate students from UC Irvine have reportedly banded together in a  cult worshipping the “Dissertation Elves,” as they have taken to calling the owls. The University declined to respond, stating only that they are aware that the pressures of dissertation work can be overwhelming,* but that they do not discriminate against any religious practice, as dictated by the Nondiscrimination Policy Statement for University of California Publications Regarding Student-Related Matters.

      
* a recent email from the UCI “grad mailer” made these concerns clear, stating that  “January is Graduate and Professional Student Mental Health and Wellness Month! Happy New Year! The Graduate Division wishes you all the best in 2009 and we hope that this year is a positive and rewarding one for you!” Students from UCI reported taking offence at the overuse of exclamation points, and noted that they would continue worshiping Dissertation Elves rather than attending the workshops, as positive results seem more likely to result from Owl-worship.

 

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1 Comment

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One response to “Dissertation Elf

  1. Melissa

    Ha ha ha ha ha…oh my.

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