Did you know that UCLA has a separate graduation ceremonies? When you graduate 10,000 students, it’s a normal procedure. You just can’t process that many people at once. So separating them makes sense.
Commencement weekend is hard to plan at the University of California, Los Angeles. The university now has so many separate identity-group graduations that scheduling them not to conflict with one another is a challenge. The women’s studies graduation and the Chicana/Chicano studies graduation are both set for 10 AM Saturday. The broader Hispanic graduation, “Raza,” is in near-conflict with the black graduation, which starts just an hour later.
Planning was easier before a new crop of ethnic groups pushed for inclusion. Students of Asian heritage were once content with the Asian–Pacific Islanders ceremony. But now there are separate Filipino and Vietnamese commencements, and some talk of a Cambodian one in the future. Years ago, UCLA sponsored an Iranian graduation, but the school’s commencement office couldn’t tell me if the event was still around. The entire Middle East may yet be a fertile source for UCLA commencements.
You have to feel for the faculty. Just how many graduation ceremonies are they required to attend? Not to mention the expense of planning all of these graduation ceremonies. And I’m sure the various departments have their own commencement recognition ceremonies.
The other problem is that in celebrating so much diversity, there is no celebration of unity. People who attended Harvard or Yale 40 years ago have a strong connection to their class. The Alumni give regularly because they have a strong sense of identity with their class. With so many segregations at UCLA, it’s hard to imagine any sort of identity with the class as a whole. Instead, the identity is with a smaller group of individuals, a group that is not really associated with the university but a general group of the population as a whole.
What I fear the most in putting so much emphasis on diversity in this country is that we will lose our identity as Americans. The “melting pot” of America is cooling down and the various elements are “settling out”, so to speak. Let’s not forget the nation that gives us the freedom to be who we are, and recognize that first, not a special demographic identity.