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Columbia University clarifies separate graduation ceremonies based on race are “voluntary”

Columbia University has received some backlash after they announced that they will be holding 6 different graduations based on their race and other ways they identify. 

The University’s website says that there will be graduation ceremonies for Native, Asain, “Latinx”, and Black students. Two other graduations might be held for “First generation and/or low income community”, and a “Lavender”graduation for the LGBTIAQ+ community. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, the ceremonies will take place online. Columbia explained that “these celebrations evolved from ceremonies originally created by students and alumni. They are open to every student. They are voluntary. And they have become a highly anticipated and valuable part of the Columbia graduation experience” [PJ Media].

“These events are important, intimate and welcoming spaces for students aligned with these groups to come together to celebrate their achievements if they wish,” the university wrote on Twitter. “These events provide a more intimate setting for students and guests to gather, incorporate meaningful cultural traditions and celebrate the specific contributions and achievements of their communities,” the school’s website reads. Due to the pandemic, each ceremony will be held virtually – from April 25 to April 27.

After the story – first told by Fox News – went viral, Columbia finally clarified the situation: “Reports today and previous tweets misrepresent our multicultural graduation celebrations, which exist in addition to, not instead of, University-wide commencement and individual school Class Days,” Columbia University clarified on Twitter. “These events are important, intimate and welcoming spaces for students aligned with these groups to come together to celebrate their achievements if they wish. They are organized in tandem with students and student groups.”

In a statement to PJ Media, a Columbia spokesperson clarified the situation further: “Columbia marks graduation every spring with a university-wide Commencement ceremony and Class Days for the graduates of each of our schools. These events bringing together all of our graduates and their families are a high point of every academic year,” the spokesperson said. “The smaller celebratory events held for particular communities are in addition to, not instead of, the main Commencement and Class Day graduation ceremonies.” The spokesperson repeated the statement from Columbia’s Twitter thread, noting that “in most instances, these smaller, multicultural gatherings evolved from ceremonies originally created by alumni and students. The gatherings are voluntary, open to every student who wants to participate, and have become a highly anticipated and meaningful part of the Columbia graduation experience.”

Last month, Young America’s Foundation flagged a “Whites-only caucus” event scheduled to take place at Elon University. It was intended to “give white people a space to learn about and process their awareness of and complicity in unjust systems without harming their friends of color,” according to an email distributed by the university. The university said the event was organized by a group of students and eventually did not take place because it would have been at odds with university policies [FOX].

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ARTICLE: KAMMIE CLEMENT

POLITICS EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE

PHOTO CREDITS: NEW YORK POST

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