Inaugural Lavender Graduation to debut at RWU

For the first time ever, the university will be holding a Lavender Graduation Ceremony on campus. This ceremony serves as a way to celebrate the successes of LGBTQ+ graduating students.

In mid-March, every senior at RWU received an email invitation to the Lavender Graduation Ceremony. Although the ceremony has been taking place at colleges and universities for decades, it is certainly a new program for RWU.

Gabby Porcaro, the coordinator for LGBTQ+ programs at RWU, further explained the ceremony.

“[The ceremony is] a time to genuinely celebrate the successes and lives of our queer and transgender students one last time before they leave us,” Porcaro said. “We know that nationally, college environments are not equitable for queer and trans students. There’s a lot of data that shows us that. So, Lavender Graduation started as a way to say, we know this experience probably wasn’t always incredible, so we want to make sure we celebrate and have a happy moment just for you and whoever your chosen family is.”

Porcaro said that, similarly to other end-of-the-year graduation-type ceremonies, there will be various faculty and staff speakers to kick off the event in the hopes of sharing some words of wisdom to the graduates. Each student will receive a lavender cord that they can choose to wear at Commencement, and they have the option to choose the person who will present them with their cord. That person will share about the student with the rest of the people in the ceremony.

Porcaro said that the ceremony is being planned with immense support from MiNa Chung, the associate director of the Intercultural Center. The staff at the Intercultural Center will assist in running the ceremony.

When asked about the takeaway message of the event, Porcaro smiled and said, “Especially for the graduating students, I hope they recognize even though the world isn’t always ready to accept and invite them, they’ve always belonged and are always worthy and always have value. It doesn’t necessarily matter if folks don’t want them there, they have a right to be there if they want to be, and they can take comfort in that and really own that.”

The Intercultural Center and Porcaro are not the only ones who are growing increasingly excited as the event nears. Graduating senior Lily Schenk has many things to say about the upcoming event as well.

Schenk said that, being a member of the queer community, she knows most of the people in the community.

“Even if your community is really small, it’s still a community,” Schenk concluded. “It’ll be a nice, more intimate graduation ceremony… with some of my closest friends.”