Went to a thesis defense last Friday. The herd is thinning. One of the committee members (who also happens to be on mine and fell asleep at my advancement to candidacy) spent the whole time reading a paper, while the committee chair colored his copy of the thesis with a sharpie.
These things are useless. Everyone has the opportunity, and is instructed, to raise any issues with the candidate a week before the defense anyway. They all have a copy of the thesis, and should be at least somewhat acquainted with the student. To deny the degree during this last hoop almost never happens. It’s a waste. Berkeley doesn’t even bother anymore.
While watching the AKC dog parade today, I had gruesome flashbacks. It wasn’t such a dissimilar experience for the student. Especially when they lifted his tail and inspected his rump. But hey, I got some chocolate cake and sparkling cider out of it.