Columbia University will play host to six different graduation ceremonies for students of particular ethnicities and backgrounds this year.

While all graduating seniors will attend the main commencement ceremony, those who identify as black, Latinx, queer, Native American, or Asian will also have the option of attending separate proceedings just for students of the same background, as will students who are the first in their families to earn a college degree.

The ethnicity-specific graduation ceremonies are not new to Columbia, but with the addition of a new ceremony for students whose parents did not attend college, Columbia is hosting a record number of sequestered ceremonies this year.

The commencements are organized through a collaboration between various student groups (such as the Black Students’ Organization) and the Columbia Office of Multicultural Affairs, which seeks to promote diversity, inclusion, and social justice among students.

In line with the OMA’s mission, it also honors some students with special regalia during graduation season, providing students “who have demonstrated an outstanding commitment to diversity, social justice, and multiculturalism” with special graduation cords to celebrate their activism while they attend “the various graduation ceremonies.”

A nomination form, which anyone may submit, seeks to gauge how dedicated a nominee is to social justice, asking for details about their social justice endeavors as an undergraduate, as well as how they will “continue the growth of understanding of multiculturalism, addressing diversity issues, and working toward social justice in personal and/or professional realms after graduation.”

The administration directly sponsors or co-sponsors all of the events, according to Columbia University’s official website.

Spokespersons for Columbia declined to answer questions on the record.

This article first appeared at campusreform.org


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