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  • FoI and the art of self-pleasuring

    Posted on March 14th, 2012 admin No comments

    A break from intensive revision

    I’m sure at some time every FoI officer has been itching to tell the requester to F*** off – but insults are not one of the exemptions and hamstrung officials have to play by the rules.

    That’s why this response, which I have come across all too late, is an absolute gem and Niall Scott of St Andrews University, in Scotland, should be congratulated for his ingenuity.

    Rather than recount the exchange it is much easier to just let you read it. You’ll see the notice (pictured) that sparked the request below.


    Dear University of St Andrews,

    This Freedom of Information request concerns the “masturbation
    notice” allegedly created by the University of St Andrews, and
    which has been floating around the Internet for a while; see one
    example at…

    1) Please inform me of whether or not the notice is genuine, and if
    it is genuine, of how many copies are currently on display around
    the University.

    2) Please provide me with an electronic copy of all internal
    correspondence regarding the decision to create the notices.

    Incidentally, if the answer to question (1) is that the notice is
    an Internet forgery, then I must apologise for this rather
    tasteless message!

    Yours faithfully,
    Steve Elibank

    And this was the reply:

    Dear Steve

    Thank you for your FoI Request re “Masturbation Notice”.

    The notice to which you refer is not an official university notice. It was
    a student prank, and regrettably not even an original prank. The notice
    appears to be a copycat issue of a similar text which appeared recently at
    Durham and Lancaster universities and a number of universities in the
    States. A quick check on Google should give you more information about
    these incidents should you require it.

    A strong clue that the notice is fake is the line “Please go home and
    masturbate if you are bored.” As a matter of policy, the University would
    never encourage students to go home during term time.

    I understand that two copies of the notice were attached, with chewing
    gum, to doors of the male toilets in the University of St Andrews Main
    Library on or about the afternoon of Sunday November 13^th 2011. The
    notices were removed by Library staff shortly afterwards.

    Far from having a policy on masturbation or outlawing the practice, as the
    bogus notice alleged, the University encourages the study of it,
    academically at least. Among the titles in the University Library is
    “Solitary Sex : A Cultural History of Masturbation” by Thomas Walter
    Laqueur, pub Zone Books, New York, 2003.


    Available from the short loan section, and as of 3 p.m. this afternoon,
    one copy still available to borrow.

    I trust this answers your request, but if you require any further
    information, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

    Kind regards


    If you want to look at the exchange on WhatDoTheyKnow you can find it here [link]. Congratulations to Mr Scott.