You Won’t Believe How These Colleges Are Dividing Graduates!

Written by Joseph Cartwright.

At universities like the University of Massachusetts (UMass) Boston, there’s a special event on the horizon—the “Lavender Graduation” scheduled for May 8th. This initiative, a brainchild of the Queer Student Center, is geared towards creating a supportive space for LGBTQ students, allies, and those identifying beyond traditional labels, aiming to boost inclusivity. However, this sparks a conversation: Does having graduations based on identity markers truly promote inclusiveness, or does it actually lead to segregation?

UMass Boston has been hosting such events for a while now, featuring everything from drag performances to local talents. Down the road at UMass Lowell, they’re gearing up for their sixth Lavender Graduation. UMass Amherst isn’t missing out either; the Bromery Center for the Arts is preparing for its 26th Rainbow Graduation, complete with rainbow tassels, certificates, and even a transphobia survival guide by keynote speaker Dru Levasseur.

A Growing National Trend

This trend isn’t just at UMass. Big names like Harvard University and Rutgers University are also throwing similar “affinity celebrations” and “Rainbow Graduations,” and even ceremonies for undocumented students. These events aim to celebrate diversity, but they also end up categorizing student populations into distinct identity-based groups, which brings up some real concerns about how unified student bodies really are.

These identity-focused commencements are becoming more of a norm and seem to be stirring more division than unity. This leads to a critical question: What happened to the vision of inclusivity that leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. championed, where people would be judged by their character and not their outward identities? This move towards identity-based ceremonies seems to be a step away from that ideal, seen by some as progressive, yet by others as a backward slide.

Reflecting on the Bigger Picture

The rise of identity-based graduations at places like UMass is troubling when you think about the principles of unity and inclusivity. While these events aim to honor diversity, they could actually be harming the very fabric of our academic and social institutions by emphasizing what makes us different rather than what we have in common.

As these events become more common, it’s crucial to think about where our educational institutions are headed. Celebrating diversity shouldn’t mean splitting graduates into smaller, more exclusive groups. Real progress means creating an environment where all students, no matter their background, can celebrate together in one inclusive, unified commencement that honors their collective achievements and shared journeys.

Our Take

Looking ahead, universities face the challenge of acknowledging unique identities while keeping the academic community united. The goal moving forward should be to craft graduation ceremonies that not only tolerate but truly celebrate diversity in a way that brings us together, not apart. This approach will not only respect individuality but also reinforce the bonds within our academic communities, setting the stage for a more inclusive future.

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