Lavender Graduation:Annual celebration

Held a day before commencement

Lavender graduation is an opportunity for members of the LGBTQA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, and allied) community to be recognized for their achievements and contributions to UIS.

It is also a celebration of how students made it through their college career, no matter their sexual orientation or gender identity. Members include students, staff, faculty, friends and family.

This ceremony is not specific to UIS. It originated at the University of Michigan in 1995. Today, over 100 universities participate in it, including New York University, Western Michigan University, and Princeton University.

According to the LGBTQA resource office’s webpage, this event involves live music, lavender cords and certificates for those who are graduating, and individual awards of recognition. When students sign up, they write down how many guests they will have, and they get to vote on nominees for the awards.

These awards are in recognition of an individual’s achievement and engagement in the community regarding LGBTQ-related issues. The awards are as follows: Lavender Graduation Prairie Star Address, Outstanding Student Ally Award, and the Pat Langley Award for Outstanding Community Engagement.

Kerry Poynter, interim executive director of the UIS Diversity Center, provides some background on Lavender Graduation at UIS.

“Lavender Graduation had been going on before I came to the university back in 2010, so UIS has been participating in this event for over six years,” Poynter explained. He goes into detail about the significance of the color lavender.

“The color was adopted by the Gay Movement back in the 1960s. It is the color of Sayville, nicknamed Gayville, New York. The city is near Fire Island where the Stonewall Veterans organized.” This piece of history will be further discussed and honored at Lavender graduation.

According to Poynter, “usually 10-20 graduating students participate with a total of about 100 in attendance. However, this year it may be a larger event due to the number of students signing up. The event has moved from the all-purpose room to SLB Gymnasium.”

Anyone who is graduating in the year of 2015 can participate in Lavender Graduation. This means those who are graduating this spring, summer, and fall. There are no other requirements to participate other than graduating.