Columbia University will hold six separate graduation ceremonies this year. According to Fox News, there will be ceremonies for Native, Asian, “Latinx” and Black students taking place for Columbia College, Columbia Engineering, General Studies and Barnard College. In addition, there will be a “FLI Graduation” for the “first generation and/or low income community” and a “Lavender” graduation for the “LGBTIAQ+ community.”
Due to the pandemic, these ceremonies will be “virtual.”
I’m happy to report that Columbia will also hold a regular graduation ceremony for all students. The University explained that the boutique graduations (my term) “exist in addition to, not instead of, University-wide commencement and individual school Class Days.” They are “voluntary” (thank God) and “open to every student.”
Columbia clearly wants it both ways — a balkanized campus but not a segregated one. It’s a fine line, though.
I wonder whether the boutique graduations will reduce participation in the university-wide event. I also wonder why Columbia is stopping at just six such graduations. Why shouldn’t Pacific Islanders have their own ceremony? Why shouldn’t the “second generation community”?
The answer is probably that these groups haven’t demanded one. There’s a good chance, however, that new groups will do so in the coming years. I assume that Columbia’s attitude will be “the more, the merrier.”
Finally, why not a separate graduation ceremony for Whites? Shouldn’t these students have the opportunity, if they wish, to celebrate their graduation in the absence of those who view them contemptuously as “privileged” and inherently “racist”?
If Columbia is going to hold boutique graduation ceremonies, they should hold one for Whites. But don’t expect the University’s “more the merrier” attitude to extend that far.