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St. Olaf College in Minnesota, is reportedly planning three segregated, virtual graduations where students graduating in 2020 will be treated differently based exclusively on their race, ethnicity, or LGBT status. This will be a segregated graduation ceremony, in the United States in 2020.
The ironically named Taylor Center for Equity and Inclusion has determined that students of color, international students and LGBT students should be officially prioritized in recognition, intentionally excluding remaining graduating students who do not identify under these restricted categories.
As Pink News described it, "the university’s Taylor Center for Equity and Inclusion has announced that three virtual graduation ceremonies will go ahead. The 'multicultural, international and lavender' graduations will take place in May, and are intended for domestic students of colour, international students, and LGBT+ students, respectively. All other students must wait until 2021."
The Taylor Center sent out an email, reported by Campus Reform, which read in part, “This event acknowledges the value and uniqueness of students’ experience and serves to commemorate and highlight the accomplishments of individuals within their familial and cultural context.”
Pink News commented on the exclusionary event with perplexed musing, “Although most would think that lifting up and celebrating minority groups in education is a good thing, there were of course some people that were unhappy with the decision.”
But of course people would be unhappy about a university segregating its student population for special recognition based on characteristics such as race and sexual orientation.
Progressives in academia have collectively determined that minority individuals must be singled out for their particular minority in order to feel “included” in the larger cultural or educational environment. As the Taylor Center argued in their email, those in charge of ensuring “equality” and “inclusion” view minority students as being entirely defined by their minority status.
While cultural experiences can be largely influenced through ethnic practices and traditions, the progressive view of diversity completely erases the individual and subsumes individual identity to that of their group. A person is certainly impacted by their cultural heritage, but the assumption that belonging to a racial, religious, or ethnic group and/or being LGBT requires special acknowledgment is the exact opposite of equality.
In their efforts to recognize the uniqueness of selected groups they dehumanize the individual student and at the same time diminish the uniqueness of experience from groups that are not included. It seems to be a progressive belief that being American, heterosexual, non-transgender, Christian and/or white defaults an individual to a sort of neutral, irrelevant, and reduced position in social status. Both strategies dehumanize and diminish, and the individual is lost in the obsession with appearing sensitive to minorities.
Typically, these efforts are designed and intended to ensure that a person from a background which is uncommon in a given area feels safe, welcomed and, ironically, not singled out based on who they are. The organizers of these events imagine that white, straight, and American students are privileged and already have a system of support and celebration behind them, but that racial minorities, ethnic minorities, international students and LGBT students do not.
Based on this assumption they believe special recognition benefits these minority students, ensures they aren’t left out of larger events and displays a public image of diversity and inclusion.
What progressives behind this mindset seem unable or unwilling to recognize is by reducing a person to their immutable characteristics and celebrating them for those qualities alone is profoundly insulting and is far, far worse than no recognition at all. Equality is experienced most tangibly when a person is very literally treated equally under law and eductional policies as everyone else in their same peer group. A person’s peer group includes all skill sets, accomplishments, training, and talents. Their individual life experiences influence their perspectives, motivations, and value systems, but none of that matters when all they are allowed to be is a member of a limited social category.
While Campus Reform confirmed that no decision has been made by school officials on the segregated graduations, it should be clear that if the university can host virtual graduations for some students, it should be easy to include all students. LGBT activists mock and boast that “straight white Americans” will have to wait until 2021 to be recognized for their individual academic accomplishments as some sort of victory for progress, but they really diminish and dismiss the accomplishments of LGBT students in the same breath.
Imagine only being recognized by your institution because you happen to be gay. Imagine being told you have to wait because you are not gay and not a racial minority.
The movement to encourage segregation and prioritization of people based on certain irrelevant and arbitrary characteristics should be viewed exactly as society views racial segregation in the United States in the 1950’s. The dehumanization is the same, even if today it is positioned as an act of benevolent recognition of “unique experiences.” All students come from diverse backgrounds and all have unique life experiences. All people have heritage, ethnicity and “familial and cultural context.”
All people deserve respect based on their own accomplishments, not applauded, or dismissed based on their condition of birth or how they choose to identify.