Office for Social Justice and Diversity Graduation Celebrations

The Office for Social Justice and Diversity (OSJD) is excited to announce our combined graduation ceremony acknowledging the academic accomplishment of our students of color and LGBTQ+ community with the Rites of Passage and Lavender Graduation Celebrations. Understanding the challenging road to graduation that many marginalized students face, this celebration gives our campus community the opportunity to celebrate the achievements of each graduate and their contribution to the diversity of our campus community at the conclusion of their undergraduate or graduate journey. All graduating undergraduate and graduate students representing these communities are eligible to participate.

What is a Lavender Graduation?

What is a Lavender Graduation?

Dr. Ronni Sanlo an identifying lesbian within the LGBTQ community was denied access to her biological children’s graduation because of her sexual orientation. As a result of this, she created the Lavender Graduation ceremony as a way to celebrate the accomplishments of graduating Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and allied students. The first ever Lavender Graduation was held at Michigan State University in 1995 for three students. Since its enactment, there have been hundreds of lavender graduations nationwide which take place the week before the institution’s formal commencement ceremony.

Why Lavender?

Lavender has played a significant role in LGBTQ history. The use of lavender is derived from the pink triangle that gay men were forced to wear in concentration camps during World War II and the black triangle lesbian women wore as a symbol of political prisoners in Nazi Germany. During the LGBTQ civil rights movement, both the pink and black triangles were joined together to overcome hatred and to create a symbol of community and the colors of pride.

What is Rites of Passage?

A ceremony to celebrate and recognize the accomplishments of graduating students of color. Similar ceremonies and celebrations to the Rites of Passage celebration have been held at colleges and universities over the years.