What is with schools and dress codes lately? School administrators are laying down the law with dress codes as though they fear that a skirt-length infraction will end the world and send academia down a slippery slope into a pile of dogs and cats and teenage girl skin. Have they lost the ability to shrug and say, “Meh”?
A Native American high school student in Alabama has been denied her diploma and transcripts after wearing a feather attached to her mortarboard at graduation. School officials have fined her $1,000, and those transcripts are under lock and key until she pays up.
Chelsea Ramer is a member of the Poarch Creek Band of Indians, and she and several other Native American students had petitioned the principal to allow them to wear the mortarboard feather as a symbol of their heritage. While the school has a ban on decorating mortarboards, Ramer and the others asked for dispensation on the grounds that it was a spiritual thing and part of their heritage. They didn’t want to glue sequins or Cheetos to their hats, or draw boobs or anything. Native American students in previous classes had worn mortarboard feathers without incident.
“I have watched others wear it and I looked forward to it my whole four years there,” Ramer said. “Now when it was my turn, [they said] I couldn’t.”
“About two months ago, me and the other Indian seniors from the graduating class asked our headmaster if we could wear the feathers on our caps,” Ramer said. “She told us ‘no’ and that if we did, she would pull us off the field.”
Ramer said she thought the feather was important enough to risk it, so she wore the feather anyway. Another student wore a feather on a necklace and did not face any sanctions. The other Native American students opted not to take any chances.
At her graduation, Ramer crossed the stage. Nobody said anything, but she was not given her diploma. The school says she can have it when she pays the $1,000. Ramer says she’s appealing the fine.
“It was worth it,” she said. “It means a lot to me.”