Each semester, the Office for Inclusive Excellence (OIE) hosts an additional ceremony for graduating students that belong to traditionally marginalized communities. The event is free of charge and is referred to as Multicultural Graduation.
“Multicultural Graduation…is really used as a time to commemorate the accomplishments of…BIPOC [Black, Indigenous, People of Color], those who identify as LGBTQIA+ and veterans,” Assistant Director of Student Transitions, Kristin Black, said. “It’s really a space that is meant to commemorate the uniqueness of the[m]…and acknowledge the achievements and contributions that they have made to the classroom.”
One of the ways students are recognized is with cultural stoles. These are decorated to represent students’ heritage and are meant to be worn with graduation robes. The stoles can represent a cultural identity, a country of origin or a branch of the military.
“They are gifted that stool as part of the ceremony in addition to a certificate that acknowledges their commencement,” Black said.
Typically there is a slideshow and “cultural student performances”. Last year, the office welcomed Rock Royalty Step Team among others.
Black thinks cultural immersion from performances among other things is important.
“I think it’s just another physical space for students who maybe don’t see themselves reflected as often in the classroom, in their peers or in the faculty to be in a space with individuals who acknowledge the experiences that they have had,” she said.
There are usually 10-15 student participants in the fall and 35-40 in the spring.
This semester, the event will take place in the Smith Student Center Ballroom on Dec. 7 from 5-7 p.m. It always takes place the Thursday before the main commencement.