Graduate denied teaching degree b/c of MySpace Photo
On the eve of graduation day, Millersville University student Stacy Snyder was denied a teaching degree because of a MySpace photo. Apparently, one of her instructors found a 2005 photo of her wearing a pirate hat while drinking from a plastic "Mr. Goodbar" cup. Of course, it could be anything in that cup. Yet the caption "Drunken Pirate" caused alarm and her instructor confronted her about it.
Despite her attempt to deleting the photo from her MySpace page, the University decided to grant Snyder a degree in English and not her education degree or teaching certificate.
Jane S. Bray, dean of the School of Education, accused Snyder of promoting underage drinking. Yet, given that she is 27 years old, the photo would make her 25, so she was not even underage at that time. Yet, the school believes it was unprofessional and conduct unbecoming of a teacher candidate.
Stacy is now suing the University for her teaching certificate and seeking at least $75,000 in compensatory damages.
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It would seem unfair. First, it is hard to determine if her photo was promoting underage drinking given that she was of legal age. As to being unprofessional, the photo was not that offensive. I would have expected a topless photo or Stacy doing a keg stand, or pouring alcohol over someone else in a drinking game. Then yes, I would call her conduct unprofessional. It seems that Millersville could have placed some sort of higher moral standard on her graduates. Yet, should one photo such as this determine her future character as a teacher?
What if the photo was of her in a political protest rally? What if she was photographed being arrested at the event? What if she was in a mud wrestling match? Or she was a bridesmaid and was in a food fight with the rest of the wedding group?
Of course, the easiest answer most people would give is "Don't show any at all!"
But I would also wonder if her MySpace blog content was "offensive" too? Also in the rumor mill, she apparently told students at one school where she worked as a student-teacher about her MySpace profile, so that could be a mistake on her part. Yet, anyone would be able to find her MySpace with little difficulty in a short period of time.