Illustration by Carly Schulman
Multicultural Student Affairs is preparing for its second year of virtual affinity-based ceremonies for graduating seniors within LGBTQ+ communities and communities of color.
This year is a continuation from last year’s programming, when MSA had to transition from in-person End-of-Year Celebrations to virtual ceremonies after the campus closed to students due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Virtual ceremonies will begin with the JubilAsian Senior Send-Off on May 28, followed by a June 3 Native American and Indigenous Community Celebration, which will also host a virtual watch party. On June 8, MSA will facilitate the Lavender Graduation, followed by The JOY: NU’s Black Congratulatory on June 9, Then, the two weeks of graduation celebrations will conclude with the Latinx Congratulatory on June 10.
Linda Luk, an MSA administrative assistant who helped to plan all events, said MSA hired a production company to create the videos for each ceremony.
The production company helped assemble pre-recorded videos, create a smooth ceremony, and provide a positive viewing experience for students and their families, Luk said.
“With the support of a production company, we’ve been able to carry out the vision that we want to celebrate and recognize our students,” Luk said.
MSA has also worked to modify traditional parts of its celebrations for a virtual format. While staff or loved ones typically distribute stoles to graduates this year, students received them through the mail.
Matt Abtahi, an assistant director of MSA, helped coordinate the stoling ceremony at the Lavender Graduation, the celebration for LGBTQ+ students.
“We are excited to get to spend lots of time celebrating the many accomplishments of the community we hold so dear,” Abtahi said. “So however folks want to engage with us virtually, we hope that they are able to.”
When MSA looked at vaccination and case numbers, it found that the communities it served were disproportionately affected by the pandemic and under-vaccinated, Abtahi said. He said that, unfortunately, a physical ceremony did not seem accessible to their communities.
MSA assistant director Alyscia Raines, said she will miss the in-person contact with students and their families.
“The thing I miss the most are the hugs, the smiles, the families, the pictures, putting a physical stole on a person,” Raines said. “We tried to recreate that connection by still having kind of a way, virtually, that we’re still putting stoles on people or having a way to still recognize the brilliance of our students who are graduating.”
For Black graduating seniors, one opportunity for an in-person celebration is touring the newly renovated Black House for the first time since its closure in 2019.
Although the ceremonies have changed formats, MSA staff remains excited for the End-of-Year ceremonies, Raines said. Her hope is that students will remember that she and MSA will continue to be a family and resource for graduates.
“It’s just important that we honor and recognize our students, regardless of the context and circumstances that we’re in, because they deserve it,” Raines said. “They deserve to be celebrated, and we’re excited to find creative ways to do so.”
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