Baby Bump Wrong Righted at Towson

Pregnancy kept woman from wearing cap and gown

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    TK
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    A Maryland woman finally donned a cap and gown 59 years after she was barred from her college graduation ceremony because she was pregnant.

    Susan Fedder Garten, who was 21 and married at the time and eventually had five children, says the only thing that ever hurt her more than the 1951 refusal by Towson State Teachers College was the loss of a child.

    The wrong was righted Thursday at the school now known as Towson University. Garten finally took the stage after her son met the university's president and showed him the original letter saying she couldn't participate.

    What was that reason? Let's let the letter, reprinted by the Baltimore Sun, try to explain it:

    "Because of your present advanced stage of pregnancy, I am confident that you have no serious intentions of attempting to participate in the academic processions …" read the letter from the advisor to the class of 1951.

    "You must realize that such participation would be most unwise from several points of view. … In making plans for the academic processions and related matters, no place will need to be made for you. Likewise, you will not appear in person on the stage of the auditorium to receive your diploma."

    Towson President Robert Caret read from the letter during the ceremony on Thursday, adding that commencement should not be denied any graduate, prompting a standing ovation from students.