For most people, no graduation ceremony is complete without the traditional mortarboard-throwing session.
However, due to health and safety concerns, a university in the U.K. has banned the much-beloved practice.
Graduating students at the University of East Anglia (UEA) in Norwich received instructions from the university recently regarding the new policy to be enforced in the upcoming congregation ceremony, as “a number of graduates had been hurt by falling hats in recent years”, The Guardian reports.
In a statement, a UEA spokesperson 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.
“This is an unacceptable risk and we want to ensure no student’s graduation day is ruined by the potential for avoidable injury.”
The spokesperson added that the university’s academic dress suppliers also supported the ban, as students would often return damaged mortarboards.
East Anglia University moves to save graduating students from injuries caused by falling mortar boards https://t.co/Znv807GzdS
— Gavin Barrett (@GMBGMDB) May 18, 2016
For those lamenting the loss of the custom, UEA has even come up with a typically modern, injury-proof solution: students will be asked to mime the hat-tossing action, and the photography studio will digitally insert the mortarboards into the final photo.
According to the photography studio, the option is not only safer, but “will have the added advantage that even more of the students’ faces will be seen in the photograph.”
But many students are still dissatisfied with the alternative, as they wished to actually go through the hat-throwing experience. One such student, Alice Reeve, has set up an online petition against the decision, urging the university to reconsider. At the time of publishing, the petition has garnered up to 608 signatures.
Student Union Officer Liam McCafferty told The Tab: “Given that last year a student ended up in A&E after a serious injury from the mortarboard throw, it’s understandable that the university and their photography company have taken steps to make the event safer.
“However, we’re not one hundred percent convinced that an outright ban on throwing the hats is the answer, and we’re asking everyone to work together to combine safety with celebration to see if there’s another way to ensure students can enjoy their moment.”
Image via Flickr.