Drunken Pirate or college degree – which do you pick?

Sarah Perez has a post over on ReadWriteWeb that has been kind of bothering me for most of the day. The way the story goes is this

  • woman goes to a party
  • woman puts on a pirate hat
  • woman has a picture of herself taken drinking while wearing a pirate hat – a toy one at that
  • woman posts said picture to her MySpace page with the title Drunken Pirate
  • at the same time said woman posts a note alluding to a strained relationship with a supervising teacher
  • the University she was attending decides that she shouldn’t get her degree in education
  • woman sues
  • woman loses
  • woman says her First Amendment rights have been violate.

Okay.. got the picture?

Now here’s the problem I am having. Everything I have read so far has been pushing this whole idea that it’s because of some stupid picture on MySpace that ruined her chances at getting her teaching degree. What isn’t being taken into account are the reports of the note regarding her teaching supervisor. I haven’t been able to find out what exactly was said in that note but to discount it as a possible reason – or one of the reasons for her situations is ignoring some possible facts.

As well, of all the articles I read only one made mention of the fact that this woman had already been criticized for her competence and professionalism, not to mention generally bad evaluations. Why couldn’t this have been the reason for her not getting her teaching degree?

It seems to me that in this case social media is being used as a handy scapegoat by both parties in the matter. To say it was just because of some picture is irresponsible. At the very best such a picture might have gotten a reprimand with a lecture on professional conduct – it does not however equal ruining a person’s career.

However having bad evaluations or having your competence questioned is grounds for not getting a degree. To cloud over the whole issue with things like Myspace photos; which was admittedly a stupid thing to do, is ridiculous. It may have provided additional ammunition for the university to not give her an education degree but in of itself I don’t think it was the whole reason.

The fact that this woman then tried to couch it in First Amendment rights though is equally insulting. She did something stupid maybe by posting the picture but it was her actions in the classroom that more than likely saw her with just an English degree instead.

It seems though that once any social media angle surfaces these days it is either the cause or the solution to some problem. Well, as nice as that might be for the press, I greatly doubt that is the case here. Sometimes a duck is just that – a duck. In this case a woman was an incompetent teaching student that didn’t deserve a degree that would let her teach our children.

End of story.

[pic courtesy of The Smoking Gun]