Editorial: Unique celebrations, not segregation

Grand Valley State University was back in the national news cycle last week in relation to GVSU’s Office of Multicultural Affairs’ annual graduation celebrations that are held in relation to the university commencement ceremony.

OMA’s graduation celebrations are “an opportunity to come together and acknowledge Laker accomplishments in the spirit of traditions of our diverse identities and cultures,” according to an email sent out by the office to students who registered for graduation this semester.

The celebrations are intended to harmlessly spotlight the accomplishments of the entire student body planning to walk in annual commencement ceremonies. GVSU, OMA and other organizations involved also make sure to note that these separate celebrations are open to all students, regardless of their race, gender, sexual orientation, etc.

A Fox News article detailed each celebration while claiming the university was “coming under fire.” The article also featured a tweet written by a conservative commentator, Matt Walsh, who tweeted “Ridiculous. (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.”

GVSU’s response to the baseless claims stated, “(GVSU) holds unified commencement ceremonies for all of its graduates. GVSU is not ‘segregating graduation ceremonies by race,’ as some people and outlets have said…(These) celebrations are a complement to GVSU’s Commencement and are open to all students and their supporters.”

In an attempt to manipulate what’s happening, Fox News and its cohorts are seemingly turning the attention away from the reality of the unique celebrations to an argument that helps boost its political agenda and ideologies.

This is yet another example that should open the eyes of readers, listeners or viewers of specific media outlets regardless of political affiliations. Taking the time to do something as simple as five minutes of individual research will more than likely uncover the reality of certain situations.

Another thought that should come to mind is realizing how important it is to have a diverse palate of news sources, as relying on just one source for all information can lead to a skewed interpretation, understanding or background knowledge of a specific situation.

In no way, shape or form is GVSU segregating or discriminating against “straight white people,” as argued by Walsh. These celebrations are important to have because it provides inclusion to students on campus.

Offering unique ways to celebrate students of different backgrounds and their achievements creates even more of an opportunity for progressiveness, inclusion and diversity which is, and always has been, the purpose of these ceremonies.