NEW YORK CITY – Columbia University has announced its plans to hold six additional graduation ceremonies for specific groups of people based on their race, income status, and sexual orientation. It seems that in order to create unity in our country, we are further dividing groups based on identity.
In addition to their regular graduation ceremony, there will be separate ones held for Black, Native, Latinx, and Asian students, low-income students, and LGBTQ+ students. Columbia said on their website that they are creating these ceremonies with the purpose of allowing these groups to “reflect on personal growth and community experiences”.
However, when a group for White students (to reflect on their ‘implicit biases’ and how they treat people of color) was formed at Elon University in North Carolina, it was quickly shut down due to the stigma that surrounds a ‘white only’ group. This was condemned as a discriminatory act which, because it excluded non-white individuals, was against university policy.
Now there is a separate group for everyone to have a second graduation ceremony EXCEPT White students and this is perfectly acceptable and even celebrated. Columbia claims they want to create a space where these students can “come together to celebrate their achievements“. Not White students though. Then it is racist.
Should we really be conditioning and encouraging our college students to group together based on identity and separate themselves from other ethnicities, sexes, etc.?
Differences can be recognized and should be celebrated. After all, what makes this country so great is its diverse mix of identities and worldviews. However, it is when groups start segregating themselves from others that we find ourselves on the precipice of very real, very strong divisions.