A university in Michigan has decided to host five separate, identity-based graduation "celebrations" in addition to its regular commencement ceremonies to celebrate the school's supposed "diverse identities and cultures."
Grand Valley State University, located in Allendale, Michigan, just a few miles west of Grand Rapids, now offers a graduation celebration for students who identify as Asian, Black, Latino/a/x, Native American, or "LGBTQIA+."
LGBTQIA+ students, or ostensibly students who identify as any sexual orientation other than heterosexual, may attend what has been dubbed the "Lavender Graduation." At this celebration, the Milton E. Ford LGBT Resource Center will award one such GVSU student with the Outstanding LGBTQIA+ Graduate Award, given to honor "a member of the LGBTQIA+ community ... who has excelled in leadership and academically during their time at Grand Valley."
The Lavender Graduation will be held in the Pere Marquette room of the Kirkhof Center. The Pere Marquette room appears to be named after Fr. Jacques Marquette, the 17th-century French Jesuit missionary credited with founding at least two Michigan cities, Sault Ste. Marie and St. Ignace, who spent much of his short life traveling around the Great Lakes region evangelizing various Native American tribes to turn away from sin and toward the good news of the gospel.
The "Lavender" and race-based graduations at GSVU are offered in addition to university commencement ceremonies for the colleges of education, engineering and computer science, interdisciplinary studies, business, health professions, nursing, and liberal arts and sciences. Presumably, as long as there is no time conflict, both undergraduate and graduate students may participate in several graduation ceremonies and celebrations in the same weekend to acknowledge all of their academic accomplishments as well as their racial, gender, or sexual identities.
As Matt Walsh of the Daily Wire notes, however, "straight white people" will enjoy no such identity-based "special celebrations."
The university also claims on its website that graduation time provides "an opportunity to offer appreciation to those who were stewards of the land on which our beautiful campus was built, long before most of our ancestors arrived." Though the school's land acknowledgement statement may not necessarily be read during any of the ceremonies, the website still pays homage to "the Three Fires People, who include the Ojibwa, the Odawa, and the Potawatomi, on whose ancestral lands we now live and work."
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