Grand Valley State University in Michigan has been at the center of controversy recently as they announced that this year they will host separate graduation ceremonies based on race and sexuality. Some of the groups with their own ceremonies will be Black students, Asian students, and ‘Latinx’ students. Not all ceremonies will be racially segregated, however, as there will also be a non-racial ceremony for LGBT students, where graduates will be eligible for such prestigious academic awards as the “Outstanding LGBTQIA+ Graduate Award.” GVSU is not the only college to roll out segregated programs for graduates. In recent years other major colleges like Columbia and Harvard University have also announced they will host similar celebrations.
By Kristine Parks; March 22, 2023
A Michigan college is coming under fire for hosting five graduation celebrations separated by race, sexuality and gender identity, in addition to the university’s larger commencement ceremony.
Grand Valley State University’s Multicultural Affairs Office lists graduation ceremonies or celebrations for Black students, Asian students, “Latinx” students, Native American students, and “LGBTQIA+” students next month. The university will also have a general commencement ceremony for all students.
The college describes the graduation celebration for “Latino/a/x students” as “an opportunity to come together and acknowledge Laker accomplishments in the spirit and traditions of culture.”
Similarly, the Black Graduation Celebration encourages students to celebrate all “that is representative of Black/African American and African tradition, heritage, culture, and legacy.” The ceremony appears to go back to at least 2016.
An annual “Native American Graduation Feast” has also been held by the school’s Native American Advisory Council (NAAC) for the past several years.
A celebration just for Asian graduates will also take place.
The only celebration hosted by the center not focused on race appears to be the “Lavender Graduation.” The rainbow-decorated GVSU webpage will celebrate “the personal and academic achievements of LGBTQIA+ and allied students.”
Students are also eligible for an “Outstanding LGBTQIA+ Graduate Award,” which is given “to an exceptional student graduating in the Fall or Winter semester of 2023…who self-identifies as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community,” the GVSU site says.
Several other liberal universities have followed similar practices for graduations in recent years.
New York’s Columbia University host graduation celebrations for affinity groups on campus, including “Lavender (LGBTQIA+), Asian, First-Generation and/or Low-Income, Black, Latinx, and Native communities,” its website says.
Harvard University also hosts graduation celebrations for Black students, Asian students, Latino students and LGBTQ students.
Conservative commentator Matt Walsh called out the separate graduation events at the Michigan university as “ridiculous” in a tweet.
“Ridiculous. Grand Valley State University (@GVSU) is holding five segregated graduation celebrations, singling out Asian, black, LGBT, Hispanic, and Native American graduates. There will be no special celebrations for straight white people, of course,” he tweeted.
Grand Valley State University told Fox News Digital that there are unified graduation ceremonies for all students:
“Grand Valley State University holds unified Commencement ceremonies for all of its graduates. GVSU is not ‘segregating graduation ceremonies by race,’ as some people and outlets have said.
“Grand Valley also welcomes student organizations and faculty leaders to hold smaller scale celebrations designed to honor graduates. These more intimate celebrations are a complement to GVSU’s Commencement and are open to all students and their supporters.”
“The vast majority of graduating students who participate in these celebrations also choose to participate in our larger Commencement ceremony where degrees are conferred,” a representative said.