Free-Range Kids

Graduates Asked to Pretend to Throw Hats, for Safety

At the University of East Anglia, you can't be too careful.



Law school students at Britain's University of East Anglia have been told not to throw their mortarboards in the air at graduation—it's just too dangerous. Instead, they are being asked to "mime" a gleeful tossing, with the caps to be photoshopped in later, at a cost of an extra $12.

I guess as law students, these young folk should understand better than anyone the university's desire to avoid all the pain and suffering—and litigation—that comes from falling hats.

That being said, The Chronicle of Higher Education found only one case in roughly a millennium of higher education wherein a student sued a university for cap-inflicted injuries:

Yale University appears to be the only American institution of higher education ever sued for a mortarboard injury. A motion filed in 1984 in Connecticut Superior Court describes how a commencement guest, one Mollie Levenstein, was struck in the eye by the sharp corner of a cap. The court held that "a mortarboard was neither inherently dangerous nor more likely to cause injury if improperly used than was any other angular object, thus it was not a dangerous instrumentality." 

And yet, the East Anglia cap-cap—that is, the cap on the throwing of caps—is not even the first in Britain. The local Norwich newspaper The Tab got hold of the university's letter to its students, which noted that another school had paved the wary way:


So hats off—er, on—to Britain, for coming up with a brand new way to transform a time-honored young people's tradition into a minefield of worry, regulation, and expense by kowtowing to inflated fears of nearly non-existent danger.

NEXT: Audit the Fed Bill Passes Committee

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  1. Hat Control

    1. Well, they do come with those scary, flip-up tassels.

      1. Some of them are even black! *shudder*

        1. And they have pointy corners! You could put an eye out, kid!

  2. Who should I vote for Congressman from California’s 49th Congressional District?

    1. Your mom.

  3. “We will photoshop them in…” Wow. Congratulations, someone has finally made ‘fun’ a four letter word.

  4. a time-honored young people’s tradition

    It’s also basic af.

  5. Yale University appears to be the only American institution of higher education ever sued for a mortarboard injury

    Goddamn Yalies. Is there nothing they can’t fuck up?

  6. Wing a cornered hat deftly into their motherfucking corneas. Goddamn augurs sprinting down the shady cobblestone alleys struggling to outrun pent-up munitions.

  7. People better pray that we never have a major war. We’ll all end up having to learn Chinese after it.

    1. Nihao, gwailo!

      1. Ni hao, laowai! or Nei hou, gwailo! Mixing Mandarin and Cantonese is a lingchi-able offense.

        1. I just got back from Brooklyn’s Chinatown…I’ve learned the best way to deal with their shit is to push and throw elbows right back.

          1. When in Little Guangzhou…

          2. That’s pretty much true of NYC as a whole, no?

            1. Brooklyn’s Chinatown is far and away Fujianese. The old-school entrenched Cantonese in Manhattan won’t rent to them, or jack them hard. So they moved into Brooklyn near Bensonhurst in massive crowds. They’re like the country bumpkins of China compared go Manhattaan (or so I’ve heard)….pushy as fuck, though.
              Kick ass giant supermarket makes it worth it.

              1. Kick ass giant supermarket makes it worth it.

                Which one?

                1. Fei long at 63rd street and 8th ave by the N train. There’s a food court, too. The butcher case in the supermarket is a trip.

                  1. Yeah I could walk there but I don’t know my way around Chinese food at all.

            2. It’s true in Fukien Province, too.

              1. What’s true?

              2. I’ve been to various regions of China, they all seemed equally pushy to me 🙂

                1. I cannot deal with people who can’t form a line and respect first come first serve. They always try this sneaky cut in from the side shit and get to the front. I just take a giant step right the fuck in front of them when they pull that.

          3. I’m at the source (Beijing) and do just that.

            Of course, when you’re a foot and a half taller than half the people there, a good glare can do the job.

    2. What are you saying that our precious snowflakes can’t defend us? Of course they can, they’ll just tell the enemy ‘you triggered me, I demand a safe space!’.

  8. Can they dance if they want to? Can they leave their friends behind?

    1. F-f-f-f-f… Y-y-y-y-y… T-t-t-t-t…. Y-y-y-y-y…. beep beep boop beep…

  9. I can’t be the only one wondering how it is that The Onion stays viable. The things that seem absolutely unbelievable actually happen.

    1. The Onion has unparalleled predictive power. It’s most likely staffed by time travelers.

    2. It’s probably not a coincidence that I’ve had more than one friend get pissed at an Onion article before they bothered checking the source. I mean, most of them are proglodytes so I rather expect it but in their defense it’s hard to tell the satire from reality these days. Was it any different during the time of Jonathan Swift? Probably not.

  10. they are being asked to “mime” a gleeful tossing

    This being a college owned and operated by the rape culture patriarchy I can only assume they mean the British version of ‘tossing’.

    1. If you can’t look at that picture and just know that the guy telling them to “hold that pose!” had an assistant shooting upskirt snaps while the girls were all looking skyward, then there’s no place for you here.

  11. Damn, that puts a damper on all my Oddjob-style graduation-related murders I was planning, and believe me, there were tons of them.

  12. $89 an hour! Seriously I don’t know why more people haven’t tried this, I work two shifts, 2 hours in the day and 2 in the evening?And i get surly a chek of $1260……0 whats awesome is Im working from home so I get more time with my kids.
    Here is what i did…


  13. There is a statue of Mary Tyler Moore flinging her beret like she does in the opening for her 70s show in downtown Minneapolix.

    The beret is still attached to her hand though FOR SAFETY PURPOSES.

  14. one Mollie Levenstein


  15. Just this morning I was straightening up the garage and moved some buckets and noted the little picture of the baby falling in the bucket with the slashy no-no on it. Has anybody actually experimented by sticking babies head-first into buckets of water to see if it’s even possible for one to drown like that? (Assuming you drop them in and then let go of them – however tempting it might be, it would be abusing the scientific process to actually hold them down in the water.) It seems to me any baby sufficiently taller than the bucket to actually be able to fall into the bucket is sufficiently big enough that, assuming he does a little kicking and squirming instead of just passsively accepting his fate (in which case the poor little booger’s probably better off dead because he’s just going to die horribly in some ludicrously tragicomic manner sooner or later anyway), he’s big enough to tip over the bucket he fell into. So is the whole idea of any more than a single-digit number of kids drowning by falling head-first into buckets of water just an urban legend or something dreamed up by some crack-smoking bureaucrat with too much time on his hands and a dry sense of humor his superiors mistook for gravitas?

  16. “with the caps to be photoshopped in later”

    It’s the University of East Anglia…if they want help doctoring evidence, they can just ask the climate researchers.

  17. If they can’t throw their caps in the air, can they at least put a cap in the ass of the university administrators?

    Note to Scotland Yard: That was simply a joke.

  18. I hate mimes.

    1. Some comedian said he’d like to build a prison-box with invisible walls, put a mime in it, and put the box and the mime in the middle of a crowded sidewalk. Nobody would pay attention to the mime trying to escape.

  19. Old news

    When I graduated HS in the 90s that was one thing we were told not to do. In a piddly little town where they did not forbid students carrying pocket knives.

    1. Same here. Of course most people went ahead and threw their caps anyway.

      1. Likewise

        I think most people realized

        What are they gonna do? Give me detention?

  20. Oh good fucking god.

    Of course, given the modern college environment, the grads probably have all the durability of Jimmy from Ed Edd n Eddy.

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