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College bans mortarboard throwing, says it’ll Photoshop them in later

As the video below suggests, getting a high-speed mortarboard in the face probably isn’t much fun.

The tradition of throwing the hats into the air after graduating has been around for more than 100 years, but a university in the U.K. now wants to do things a little differently.

Citing safety concerns, officials at the University of East Anglia (UEA) said this year graduates should simply pretend to throw their mortarboards skyward, adding that the photography firm taking the pictures will Photoshop them in later.

Penguin Photography said it’s been taking graduation photos for the last 20 years, offering graduates two prints: a formal photograph and a mortar board-throwing photograph.

“This year we were asked by UEA not to do the photo of students throwing their mortarboards in the air, due to safety reasons,” the company said.

“Rather than lose this classic photograph completely, we have offered to continue the mortarboard-throwing photograph tradition by offering to Photoshop the hats in afterwards. We have actually reduced the price of this second photograph in recognition of it not being ideal.”

A spokesperson for the university, located about 80 miles north-east of London, told ITV News that the decision follows “a number of injuries over recent years to graduates hurt by falling mortarboards.”

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It’s not clear how many mortarboard-related injuries occur each year, but the hats, with its stiff square top and pointed corners, clearly has the potential to do some damage.

However, the U.K.’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) described the ban as unnecessary. Geoff Cox, the executive’s head of public sector, said colleges should research the facts “before repeating tired health and safety myths like this one.”

He added, “As far back as 2008, HSE made clear the law does not stop graduates having fun and celebrating their success in the time-honoured fashion. The chance of being injured by a flying mortarboard is incredibly small and it’s over the top to impose an outright ban. We usually find the concern is actually about the hats being returned in good condition.”