Mortar boards are the new mortar bombs
University of East Anglia (UEA) law students have been told to mime throwing their mortar board caps in the air at their graduation in move branded as “ridiculous” by personal injury lawyers.
An email sent to all third and fourth year law students — due to graduate on the 21 July — advises students to refrain from the traditional hat toss because of health and safety concerns.
The email received by the soon-to-be law grads contained an attachment (pictured below) from official event photographers Penguin Photograph which instructed students to “mime the throwing of their hats in the air” on the grounds that it is safer.
Law students — who will no doubt already be strapped for cash — are also told to fork out £8 each for the hats to be superimposed into the graduation group shot at a later date.
Serious injury specialists Fletchers Solicitors are skeptical. Branding the whole thing “ridiculous”, it told Legal Cheek it is more likely they were trying to prevent the hats being damaged rather than preventing future legal claims. Flagging up a number of other ‘important’ legal issues, the spokesperson continued:
We are not sure whether there are any guidance rules or ‘hat throwing regulations’ that would define how one should throw a hat in order to be able to then decide whether or not someone threw their hat in a negligent manner. You may have to look at whether hat-throwing training was provided and whether entering into the photo comes with known and accepted risks. You would also have to ensure names were written in hats first so that the negligent thrower could be properly identified.
This is, of course, all ridiculous and the idea that this request is truly driven by a fear of a legal claim is preposterous. More than likely, the people who hire the hats and garments don’t want them thrown and damaged, and are hiding behind the usual “health and safety” excuse
With lawyers unconvinced, students seemed equally perplexed by the move. Speaking to The Tab yesterday, current UEA law society president Louisa Baldwin said:
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 dance floor.
The email also helpfully provided an example (pictured below) of what the finished graduation pic would look like, using a 2012 University of Warwick shot that was given the same photoshop treatment.
With the ban now applying to all UEA students — and not just those at the law school — a spokesperson for the university has claimed that there had been “a number of injuries over recent years” due to falling mortar boards.
This is an unacceptable risk and we want to ensure no student’s graduation day is ruined by the potential for avoidable injury.
First, trigger warnings for “delicate Oxford flowers”, and now a ban on hat throwing in Norwich. What next for our precious law students?