Identity Group Graduations

John Leo reports that,

Commencement weekend is hard to plan at the University of California, Los Angeles. The university now has so many separate identity-group graduations that scheduling them not to conflict with one another is a challenge. The women’s studies graduation and the Chicana/Chicano studies graduation are both set for 10 AM Saturday. The broader Hispanic graduation, “Raza,” is in near-conflict with the black graduation, which starts just an hour later.

Oddly, I was under the impression that the purpose of graduation ceremonies was to celebrate a common achievement.

Via UCLA lawprof Steve Bainbridge, who offers no commentary.
A quick Google search reveals that several California state universities have ethnic-based graduation ceremonies and that UCLA has been doing it for several years now.

UPDATE: A commenter has challenged the accuracy of this report, noting that UCLA has department based graduations and that these ethnic celebrations are mere parties. It turns out more complicated than that, although I agree that Leo’s report is misleading.

These events are nothing new and seem to be, in effect, separate graduation exercises that can be intended in addition to or instead of the department events.

Celebrate Good Times – Many campus groups hold identity-based ceremonies to unify graduates’ personal experiences, UCLA DAILY BRUIN, Monday, June 11, 2001

This weekend, UCLA’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community will unite pink with black — colors of triangles used to identify gays and lesbians in Nazi Germany — in the Lavender Celebration to convey the significance of their graduation as visible LGBT individuals.

The celebration, along with the Iranian Student Group and the Asian Pacific Islander Celebrations, are examples of the identity-based graduation ceremonies, which are available in addition to the traditional, degree-conferring commencement events.

UCLA’s 28th Annual Raza Graduation:

Raza students at UCLA have had the privilege of their own graduation ceremony every year because of the work that students themselves put into the planning of this wonderful event. Our ceremony is unique because unlike other campus graduations, we tailor ours to our own community. If you will be graduating or would like to help out so you know what to do when you graduate, then join us at our meetings staring winter quarter. These meetings will give us the time and space to plan everything out in order to make this graduation ceremony the best it can be.

RAZA GRAD – OUR Graduation:

Raza Graduation - Our Graduation

FILED UNDER: Education, Gender Issues, Race and Politics, , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. John Burgess says:

    I was at the Penn graduation a few weeks ago. There were separate ceremonies for the different schools, but identity politics were limited to the wearing of special stoles for the different honor societies, some of which are ethnically based. I didn’t find that obnoxious in the least.

  2. just me says:

    Granted it has been almost 20 years since I graduated, but there was only the one graduation, although each individual college held a reception and ceremony where we actually got our diplomas.

    There wasn’t a race, gender, or some other identity graduation ceremony. Shoot the women’s and African American studies were part of the college of social sciences, and both were in their infancy (not sure where they are now).

  3. spacemonkey says:

    King’s dream has come true.

  4. carpeicthus says:

    Whoops! Knowing that the right-wing tends to talk out of their ass when it comes to higher education, I decided to look up the facts. And, to no surprise, John Leo is full of crap.

    Here’s the schedule: http://www.commencement.ucla.edu/schedule.cfm

    The graduations are by *academic department*, because UCLA is huge. Of course that’s hard to plan. The student-group “commencements” aren’t commencements at all — they’re parties. Student groups throwing graduation parties? What is this world coming to?

    Leo’s just playing on latent resentment that minorities and women are allowed to get higher education. James, you work in higher ed, right? This should have set off your bullshit alarm.

  5. carpeicthus says:

    BTW, I can only assume that Bainbridge DOES know better, and is spreading disinformation for political purposes. He has to attend some of these ceremonies, after all.

  6. G.A. Phillips says:

    Whoops! Knowing that the right-wing tends to talk out of their ass when it comes to higher education? As apposed liberals who are talking asses on every subject. Million’s of people around this world have higher educations in what, me thinks that it is sh-t that others liberals have made up, and the fact that they form gangs on sex, color, and or liberal religious components to study it, is a good thing why?

  7. Steve Verdon says:

    The graduations are by *academic department*, because UCLA is huge. Of course that’s hard to plan.

    Uhhh, no, not quite. In looking over the schedule of graduation it becomes patently clear that the graduations are by “school”–e.g. The School of Dentistry, the School of Public Affairs, and the College of Letters and Science–as well as by department. While one could argue the first two are actually departments the Collegel of Letters and Science incorporates many departments.