Apparently tired of student excuses at exam time, my brother Jeffrey, an English professor at George Washington University, is mulling placing the following disclaimer on his course syllabus. It is of limited legal utility, but of much greater humor value.
A statistically significant number of lethal events have been observed to cluster around Professor Cohen’s classes, especially as examinations and paper deadlines near. These nocuous events include but are in no way limited to the sudden demise of beloved grandparents (grandmothers are especially susceptible; multiple grannies have been known to perish as a result of taking Professor Cohen’s courses) and the disappearance through theft or instantaneous combustion of computers, especially laptops. Other hazardous effects of the exams and papers in Professor Cohen’s courses include sudden printer death syndrome (SPDS); corruption of electronic files so that eloquent papers are rendered gibberish; vanishing of backup copies to alternate dimensions; relatives whose impending quietus made you flee town right before the midterm may make a sudden recovery, only to expire the night before the final; and other perverse turns of fate and reversals of fortune too numerous to list here.
Be forewarned that no responsibility for these terrible events can be taken by the course instructor. You enroll in this class at your own peril and risk.
This, of course, is intended for comic value, and, no doubt, students would find an understanding ear for their true-life tragedies.
In any event, I don’t suspect this disclaimer would hold up in court. It reminds me of a Vincent Price movie that starts out with the disclaimer that the theater management will not be held legally responsible for anyone who dies of fright on account of the film.