Columbia’s Multicultural Graduation Celebrations: What They Mean and Why They Are Special to Graduates 


Graduations are a moment of celebration and at Columbia, we like to offer our graduates as many chances to celebrate during Commencement Week as possible. 

In addition to the university-wide Commencement ceremony and each school’s class day, our undergraduate students organize Multicultural Graduation Celebrations that allow them to celebrate the cultural intersections in their lives and honor the communities to which they belong. These celebrations are open to anyone in the Columbia community who wants to celebrate a particular culture or group. 

Affinity groups across campus provide a network of support and connection throughout an undergraduate’s four years. These celebrations are an avenue for highlighting the key moment of graduation with the personal community that they hold dear. Celebrations include events for Multicultural Affairs, Lavender (LGBTQIA+), Asian, First-Generation and/or Low-Income, Black, Latinx, and Native communities. 

The Multicultural Graduation Celebrations have a long history at the university, dating back to 2005 when social media first became a part of our everyday lives. Below, find more details about the celebrations and how you can attend.

Who Organizes the Multicultural Graduation Celebrations?

Student groups convene to put these celebrations together. Currently, four of the undergraduate schools participate, including Barnard College, and there are six ceremonies. The graduate schools also host their own identity-focused ceremonies.

Are the Celebrations Open to Anyone in the Columbia Community?

An invitation is extended to any graduating senior who wants to participate. There are no restrictions or requirements to attend any of the ceremonies and the larger community including parents, family, friends, and alumni are also welcome to join. Students are traditionally notified in newsletters and student groups promote the events within their networks as well.

When Did Identity-Focused Graduation Ceremonies First Begin?

The ceremonies began almost 20 years ago and are a long-standing tradition in the undergraduate community that has the collaboration of student organizations and alumni.

Why Have Additional Celebrations? 

These celebrations are not unique to Columbia. Colleges and universities around the country also host identity-focused celebrations to honor graduates. Here, our students take the lead in planning.

Each event is unique because it is planned by its community, both alumni and students, to honor heritage, traditions, and customs while offering an intimate setting for the community to gather.The number of tickets available for Commencement and Class Days is limited, so each multicultural celebration is organized to allow for more family and friends to join in the festivities and celebrate their graduates.