Columbia’s Multicultural and Affinity 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 with campus partners organize Multicultural and Affinity 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 a student's time at Columbia. These celebrations are an avenue for highlighting the key moment of graduation with the personal community that they hold dear. Celebrations include events for Asian, Black, Disability Affinity Group, First Generation and/or Low-Income, International Undergraduates, Jewish, Latinx, Lavender (LGBTQIA+), Multicultural Affairs, and Native communities. 

The Multicultural and Affinity 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 and Affinity Graduation Celebrations?

Student groups and leaders collaborate with campus partners to plan these celebrations. 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 regular announcements to graduating students and student groups promote the events within their networks as well.

When Did Identity-Focused Graduation Ceremonies First Begin?

The ceremonies began over 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, customs, and affinity 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 and affinity celebration is organized to allow for more family and friends to join in the festivities and celebrate their graduates.