Several University of Utah student journalists may not graduate due to a prank they pulled in the last edition of the student paper. According to an article by Jesse Fruhwirth in the Salt Lake City Weekly:
Nine University of Utah graduating seniors and former staff members of the Daily Utah Chronicle received an e-mail alerting them that there has been a hold placed on their records after a traditional newspaper staff farewell gag caught the attention of administrators. Editors at the paper…
arranged for the drop-cap letters in a series of farewell columns to spell out the words… “PENIS” and [another word that is, um, an offensive term for the analogous female organ].
The e-mail… instructs the students to schedule a meeting with the Dean of Students office.
The graduates have been told they can not meet with the Dean’s office until next week. [One student] said the e-mail does not impact the graduates’ right to walk in the graduation ceremony Friday, “but they won’t process or send us our degree.”
While clearly somewhat unsuitable, the prank is an annual tradition at the U. Fruhwirth reports that since at least 1999 outgoing editors of the student paper have written farewell columns so that the drop-caps spell out words like balls (1999), tipsy (2001), and drunk (2002). The university administration has never before punished editors for the stunt. Indeed, it never seemed to notice.