Under the already oppressive cloud of the Coronavirus crisis, graduates at St. Olaf College, in Minnesota, are currently being denied an official graduating ceremony, unless they’re part of the graduating student body who ‘self-identifies as a person of colour’, International or LGBTQAI+. Though the College’s website states that ‘due to COVID-19, 2020 Commencement festivities are postponed until late May/June 2021’, the College’s Centre for Equity and Inclusion, has sent out an email invite, saying that it will be hosting virtual graduation ceremonies for minority students.
Minnesotan based Alphanews, published a copy of the invitation, written by Dr. Maria C. Pabon Gautier (Director of the Taylor Centre for Equity and Inclusion). Delivered by email, Gautier fails to mention any consolation for non-minority graduates, but firmly outlines that there would be ‘three virtual graduations’ in May for three special groups, beginning with: ‘Multicultural Graduation (Domestic Students of Colour), International Graduation (International Students) and Lavender Graduation (LGBTQIA+ students).’
Kyle Hooten, (who also penned the more evidence based Alphanews article cited above), first raised the news on April 22nd via Campus Reform. He noted that Campus Reform checked in with ‘multiple graduating seniors at St. Olaf, [and] none said [that] they’d been informed of any online ceremony for the general student body.’
While St. Olaf’s Director for Equity and Inclusion has seemingly failed to include the majority, or even reassure them that they have not been forgotten, overlooked, or worse, segregated, some consolation did come from ‘Associate Director of Communications Kari VanDerVeen’, who ‘told Campus Reform that the school is “exploring a number of ways to celebrate the Class of 2020,” but that plans were not yet “finalized.” (Hooten)
To be fair, reasons for having, what look a lot like segregated graduation ceremonies, probably include logistical limitations, technological capability, and the ease with which smaller student numbers can be catered for in a virtual graduation environment.
This said, it doesn’t provide a total explanation for the apparent contradiction between the St. Olaf’s Centre for Equity & Inclusivity, and the claim that official ‘Schedule of Events’ which clearly states that ‘2020 Commencement festivities have been postponed until 2021.’ Neither do these reasons explain the absence of any public information reassuring the general student body about whether their graduation will be accommodated in a similar fashion to that of these minority.
While the Lutheran college’s mission statement states a specific goal towards achieving ‘inclusivity’, its Centre for Equity and Inclusivity appears to be intentionally excluding non-minority students.
Gautier may be too distracted to care, or worse, is being derelict in her duties as director. The evidence suggests either an innocent oversight in trying times, asinine good intentions, or something more malicious. All three are likely. There’s a dissonance created by Gautier. Inequality in the name of equality exposes what Jean Bethke Elshtain called ‘phony equality.’[i]
The academic world is bogged down in a quagmire of sameness. This is the direct result of political correctness; tolerance introducing ‘equality where equality is fatal’ (C.S. Lewis) [ii]. With its perversion of Christianity – reducing its primary tenants to an ethic of niceness; the academy’s obsession with identity politics, safe spaces, and inane virtue signaling, education is replaced with indoctrination.
Special privilege is rubbed in the faces of those who are excluded for their assumed privilege; excluded because of their skin colour, heterosexuality, presumed “evil” right-wing political sympathies, and “sinful” passion for living out a no compromise, honest biblical theology.
It’s a package deal. Year by year, the academy not only continues to manifest Orwell’s, ‘all are equal, but some are more equal than others’, it normalizes the special treatment of the few, with disdain and disregard for the many – the destructive anarchist vacuum of pagan tribalism.
The general student body should expect more from the director of equity and inclusivity, who like some Republicans and most Democrats, currently appear to be willingly absent at the helm. Surely Gautier and those in her team understand that ALL of their graduates are under a lot of unexpected uncertainty and anxiety.
Those graduates face the dismal prospect of trying to fit into a job market severed to pieces by multi-level government agencies enforcing questionable Coronavirus lockdowns, its consequential suffocation of the economy, and the massive rise in unemployment. Students being told in not so many words that they don’t meet the criteria for care by their own Centre for Equity and Inclusivity, is far from helpful, it’s a downright harmful abdication of responsibility.
References (not otherwise hyperlinked):
[i] Elshtain, J.B. 1995 Democracy on Trial Basic Books, Perseus Books Group p.83
[ii] Lewis, C. 1944, Democratic Education In Walmsley, L. (Ed.) 2000 C.S Lewis Essay Collection Harper Collins p.190
First published on Caldron Pool, 27th April, 2020.
©Rod Lampard, 2020.