Michigan university hosting separate graduation celebrations based on race, sexuality

Liberal colleges have embraced racially segregated affinity group graduation celebrations in recent years

A Michigan college is coming under fire for hosting five graduation celebrations separated by race, sexuality and gender identity, in addition to the university's larger commencement ceremony.

Grand Valley State University's Multicultural Affairs Office lists graduation ceremonies or celebrations for Black students, Asian students, "Latinx" students, Native American students, and "LGBTQIA+" students next month. The university will also have a general commencement ceremony for all students.

The college describes the graduation celebration for "Latino/a/x students" as "an opportunity to come together and acknowledge Laker accomplishments in the spirit and traditions of culture."

Similarly, the Black Graduation Celebration encourages students to celebrate all "that is representative of Black/African American and African tradition, heritage, culture, and legacy." The ceremony appears to go back to at least 2016.

College graduates in cap and gown

College students stand in their caps and gowns at graduation. (Silas Stein/picture alliance via Getty Images)

An annual "Native American Graduation Feast" has also been held by the school's Native American Advisory Council (NAAC) for the past several years.

A celebration just for Asian graduates will also take place.

The only celebration hosted by the center not focused on race appears to be the "Lavender Graduation." The rainbow-decorated GVSU webpage will celebrate "the personal and academic achievements of LGBTQIA+ and allied students."

FILE - In this Nov. 14, 2015, file photo, Sandy Newcomb poses for a photograph with a rainbow flag as Mormons gather for a mass resignation from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in Salt Lake City. Mormon leaders are telling gay and lesbian church members that attraction to people of the same sex is not a sin or a measure of their faithfulness. But they are reminding those members that acting on those feelings by having sex violates fundamental doctrinal beliefs that won't change. The message is part of the Mormon church's "Mormon and Gay" website launched Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2016, with dozens of articles, teachings, videos and stories from Mormons who identify themselves as gay. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

Michigan's Grand Valley State University is hosting a ‘Lavender Graduation’ for LGBTQIA+ students. (AP)


Students are also eligible for an "Outstanding LGBTQIA+ Graduate Award," which is given "to an exceptional student graduating in the Fall or Winter semester of 2023…who self-identifies as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community," the GVSU site says.

Several other liberal universities have followed similar practices for graduations in recent years. 

New York's Columbia University host graduation celebrations for affinity groups on campus, including "Lavender (LGBTQIA+), Asian, First-Generation and/or Low-Income, Black, Latinx, and Native communities," its website says.

Harvard University also hosts graduation celebrations for Black students, Asian students, Latino students and LGBTQ students.


Harvard University features graduation celebrations for Black students, Asian students, Latino students and LGBTQ students. (iStock)


Conservative commentator Matt Walsh called out the separate graduation events at the Michigan university as "ridiculous" in a tweet.

"Ridiculous. Grand Valley State University (@GVSU) is holding five segregated graduation celebrations, singling out Asian, black, LGBT, Hispanic, and Native American graduates. There will be no special celebrations for straight white people, of course," he tweeted.

Grand Valley State University told Fox News Digital that there are unified graduation ceremonies for all students: 

"Grand Valley State University holds unified Commencement ceremonies for all of its graduates. GVSU is not 'segregating graduation ceremonies by race,' as some people and outlets have said.

"Grand Valley also welcomes student organizations and faculty leaders to hold smaller scale celebrations designed to honor graduates. These more intimate celebrations are a complement to GVSU’s Commencement and are open to all students and their supporters."

"The vast majority of graduating students who participate in these celebrations also choose to participate in our larger Commencement ceremony where degrees are conferred," a representative said.