Students at the University of East Anglia have been told not to throw their mortarboards in the air upon graduating – but for a price they could “mime” and have their hats digitally added in afterwards.
The instructions were sent to students after the institution reportedly said that a number of injuries had been recorded following the graduate hat throwing tradition in previous years.
An email from Penguin Photograph, who are commissioned for the Norwich institution’s upcoming graduation ceremonies, said: “We will be asking everyone to mime the throwing of their hats in the air and we will then Photoshop them in above the group before printing”.
“As well as being safer, this will have the added advantage that even more of the students’ faces will be seen in this photograph”.
The company said their offer to add in fake hats post-production was "a bargain" at an extra £8, and provided an example of a similarly doctored image from a recent ceremony at the University of Warwick.
Louisa Baldwin, Law Society President at UEA, told student newspaper The Tab: “If I’ve paid £45 to hire a bit of cloth and card for the day, I should be able to chuck my hat in the air! It’s nothing worse than the weekly ritual of dodging VKs as they’re lobbed across the LCR [lower common room] dance floor.”
An increasing number of universities have warned graduating students against the much-loved tradition in recent years, citing fears over health and safety and the possibility of being held responsible for accidents as a motive.
Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge has also attempted to put a stop to mortarboard throwing on the basis that the caps could be damaged as well as graduands, and last year the University of Birmingham killed off the tradition in order to “ensure everyone has an enjoyable time”.
Describing the throwing of hats as an “unacceptable risk”, the University of East Anglia said: “The decision to not have the traditional ‘hat throwing’ photo opportunity for all students this year follows a number of injuries over recent years to graduates hurt by falling mortarboards.”
“We want to ensure no student’s graduation day is ruined by the potential for avoidable injury,” a spokesperson added.
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