College Segregating Graduation Ceremonies by Race Sparks Anger
James Bickerton, Newsweek, March 21, 2023
Grand Valley State University (GVSU) has come under fire from conservatives after hosting separate “graduation celebrations” for Black, Asian, Latino, Native American and LGBTQ students, in addition to the main graduation ceremony.
The Michigan-based college said the annual “cultural graduations” are intended to recognize “accomplishments in the spirit and traditions of our diverse identities and cultures.”
Separate graduation events for different communities have sprung up at a number of American universities over the past few years. Supporters argue they showcase pride in an institution’s diversity, whilst critics claim they are regressive and unnecessarily divide students.
Conservative commentator Matt Walsh shared a copy of an email sent to GVSU students, known as Lakers, who were “within 24 credits of graduation from GVSU.”
It said Grand Valley is hosting “five unique graduation celebrations designed to honor our diverse graduates,” in addition to the main ceremony. It listed these as the Asian Graduation Celebration, the Black Graduation Celebration, the Latino/a/x Graduation Celebration, the Lavender Graduation (“celebrating LGBTQIA+ graduates”) and the “Native Graduation Celebration.”
Walsh, a columnist for conservative website The Daily Wire, branded the plans “ridiculous,” adding: “There will be no special celebrations for straight white people, of course.”
Speaking to Newsweek a spokesperson for Grand Valley State University explained why it is holding multiple celebrations.
“Under the leadership of our volunteer faculty/staff associations and with student organizations, Grand Valley hosts graduation celebrations annually designed to honor our diverse graduates aligned with university commitments to building a culture of educational equity. For most, these more intimate celebrations are a complement to GVSU’s traditional Commencement.