Jefferson puts cap on freedom of expression

Jefferson+puts+cap+on+freedom+of+expression

Photo courtsey of Ben Stephenson

In anticipation of graduation, students proudly sport their college t-shirt and hold festivities to celebrate the end of the year. Graduation gifts follow college color schemes and fresh bumper stickers adorn the back of cars. Social media is littered with college photos and statuses to
showing off their home for next year.

However, when the time arrives and we finally walk across the stage, Jefferson seniors are left with nothing but a stereotypical blue graduation gown and plain cap to showcase. An American tradition, that of decorating graduations caps, has been prohibited by the administration. Students have complained many times both on Facebook and in school about their lack of freedom of expression, rights which have been secured for students in court cases such as Tinker v. Des Moines.

The Jefferson administration has yet to officially comment on the matter, but students on GradComm have stated that Mr. Brandon Kosatka, Director of Student Services at Jefferson, is averse to allowing students to decorate their own hats because of the difficulty in screening all the hats and the administration’s wish for all the graduates to look uniform in pictures. While some students agree that decorates may not be very aesthetically pleasing for pictures, other students want to be able to express themselves, especially since they are the ones who have paid for the graduation caps. “It’s a dignified ceremony,” Kosatka said.

The Student Rights and Responsibilities (SR&R) states that “students have the right to express themselves through speech, assembly, distributing literature, and other ways…[and] are expected to communicate their opinions in ways that do not interfere with the rights of others, cause disruption or harm, damage another’s reputation, or break the law.” Decorating caps do not violate these FCPS regulations and administration can review the content of cap decorations prior to graduation.

Students at campuses across the country are graduating in their own uniquely-designed caps. The Jefferson administration should cave to the demand of students and allow us to decorate our caps however we want (without violating the SR&R).