The Wall of Tolerance
By bnitz on May 18, 2005
Here's a bit of cross-cultural trivia. In the upper midwestern United States, parchment diplomas are decorative items suitable for framing or hanging on mom's refrigerator.1 A transcript is the generally accepted proof of a university degree. A transcript is printed with state-of-the-art technology which in 1987 was green and white fanfold DECWriter paper.
Fast forward to the 21st century go northeast a few
thousand miles, and you'll find that the crucial document to the
Irish visa department is the parchment diploma. Even though
the important Irish "leaving certificates" are often printed on
dot matrix computer paper, the immigration worker looked at my
Oshkosh transcript as though I'd passed a dead fish through the
slot in the perplex window. I was told that the diploma must
be on parchment and it must say B.S. in a specific field of study.
So I wrote to the kind folks at U.W. Oshkosh for a replacement for
my lost decorative diploma. They were very helpful, but the
University of Wisconsin no longer prints diplomas which specify a
major degree. In fact, until UW changed printing companies you
were lucky to get your correct name, school and BA, BS or PhD
spelled correctly. UW's reasoning is that it is too easy to forge
a parchment diploma. They have a point, most post 1987 ink jet
printers can print a more convincing diploma than my original.
I haven't seen a DECWriter in a while, so parchment diplomas
might actually be easier to forge than fanfold green and white
The unappreciated frontline government workers did come through in the end and I thank them. I now have two decorative diplomas indicating that I have a Bachelor of Science in an unspecified subject (B.S. Physics, Comp Sci minor) and my wife has two B.A. diplomas which mention neither her Spanish nor her Journalism degrees. But while looking for my original, I dug up another document to hang on mom's fridge:
I doubt if this is what Rosa Parks had in mind, but it works for me. So here is my challenge for the traditional media, try to immigrate or get a work visa into your home country and document what happens. Good luck! I wonder how many of us would have the tolerance to make it through the red-tape and other obstacles at our own border, especially in my homeland where few even bother with a passport?1 Were it not for my grades in Digital Signal Processing and Nordic skiing, mom's dodge station wagon might have qualified for one of those "super student" bumper stickers that are so despised outside of the U.S.