Is Columbia University Having Six Separate Graduation Ceremonies Based on Race, Ethnicity, Income Status?

Several news outlets claimed Columbia University scheduled graduation ceremonies for students based on race, ethnicity, gender or sexual identity, and socioeconomic status.

On Tuesday, Fox News published a report claiming Columbia University was hosting six separate graduation ceremonies based on income groups, race, and ethnicities.

The article sparked heavy criticism from right-wing social media with conservatives slamming the New York University for unnecessary separatism in the name of "diversity inclusion."

The report included a link to the university's website claiming it was holding a separate Native Graduation, a Lavender Graduation for the LGBTQIA+ community, an Asian Graduation, a ceremony for those from first-generation and/or low-income communities, a Latinx Graduation and a Black Graduation in April.

The article picked up on a tweet shared by Mercy Muroki, senior researcher at The Centre for Social Justice and graduate student in social policy at the University of Oxford, earlier this month,

"Racially and sexually segregated graduation ceremonies. One of the 'best' universities in the world. 2021," he captioned a screenshot from the university's website.

The Multicultural Graduation Events Are Additional Ceremonies, Voluntary for Students

The claim is a misleading depiction of the facts and fails to explain the context behind why and under what circumstances was the university holding the separate, virtual "multicultural graduation ceremonies" for its students.

It is quite common for higher education institutions to organize separate graduation ceremonies for students. In the case of Columbia University, there are additional graduation ceremonies for people choosing to celebrate with people of their own ethnic backgrounds or sexual orientation. The ceremonies are also not compulsory, and a general graduation ceremony for all students will also be held on April 30.

Columbia University

"Columbia marks graduation every spring with a university-wide Commencement ceremony and Class Days for the graduates of each of our schools. These events bringing together all of our graduates and their families are a high point of every academic year," the university said in a statement.

"The smaller celebratory events held for particular groups are in addition to, not instead of, the main Commencement and Class Day graduation ceremonies," the statement continued. "In most instances, these smaller, multicultural gatherings evolved from ceremonies originally created by alumni and students."

"The gatherings are voluntary, open to every student who wants to participate, and have become a highly anticipated and meaningful part of the Columbia graduation experience," the university added.

According to the university's Facebook page, it has held the multicultural graduation ceremonies every year since the social media account's creation in 2012.