Posted by: gdevi | April 26, 2016

A wonderful event

We celebrated the 2016 Lavender Graduation this evening at the PUB Room 2. There were twelve LGBTQ students and allies graduating this year . It was a beautiful event. We had two keynote speakers–Dr. Karen Whitney, the President of Clarion University, and Ms. Nancy Shamban, who is our own Noah’s grandmother, and a licensed psychotherapist based in New York. Our President, Dr. Fiorentino introduced Dr. Whitney, and Lisette introduced Nancy. Both keynotes were wonderful; I wish someone had recorded them. Just wonderful speeches. Nancy has extended a standing invitation to me to stay with her in Greenwich Village if ever I am in New York. We had around 75-80 people in attendance–family, friends, faculty, staff. We had food and a rainbow cake for the graduates and everyone. Deans Rimby and Carnicom did the graduation roll call and presented the graduates with tassels and certificates and our gifts for them. There were many beautiful speeches by students, faculty, staff and friends of the graduating seniors. Lots of pictures taken, lots of cake, lots of hugs–you did well, everyone! You were a special group of students. We will miss you all. Keep in touch and do well wherever you will arrive. I did the welcome and the MC’ing of the program for the evening. Here are my opening remarks for the graduation ceremony:

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Welcome. I am Gayatri Devi and I teach in the English department and I am a member of the President’s Commission on LGBTQ Affairs who is sponsoring the graduation event this evening. It is my distinct honor to invite you all to the 2016 Lavender Graduation ceremony where we celebrate and honor the successful completion of the academic journey of our lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning students and allies. The 2016 Lavender Graduation is sponsored by the President’s Commission on LGBTQ Affairs, and cosponsored by the Office of the President, the Stackpole Hall Diversity Grant, Safe Zone, Gender Sexuality Alliance or GSA, Gender Equality Liberation or GEL, and the Office of Social Equity. The Commission thanks all of you for generously supporting the program events this evening, and for your dedicated advocacy of LGBTQ issues on campus.

Not that long ago, our nation’s campuses were not a safe space for students who did not conform to the heteronormative gender binary and sexual orientation. Viewed in this light, Lavender Graduation is a cultural event that speaks to the radical transformative ethos of our nation’s campuses in its proud and wholesome embracing of those who were marginalized and silenced just a few decades ago. The promise of Lavender Graduation is that of an open, proud and free community where we are respected and valued for who we are. Tonight, we are celebrating the coming together of such a community at Lock Haven University.

As a member of the President’s Commission on LGBTQ Affairs for several years now, I have had the distinct privilege to witness and participate in the creation and growth of this community. So I want to take a few minutes to acknowledge the work of my colleagues on the Commission and their dedicated service to LGBTQ advocacy on campus: Dr. Rick Schulze, the chair of the Commission who has lent his wholehearted support to the many programs and initiatives undertaken by the commission; all of my colleagues in the various working subcommittees of the Commission—you know who you are—we are a big Commission and we are too numerous to mark by name now—but our work in the commission—from speaker series, to workshops, to film screenings, to resource manuals, to campus climate survey, and ally training – our varied work in the Commission rounds out our commitment to make our campus community truly diverse and inclusive in fundamental ways.

I also want to thank our spirited student members, in particular, the students of GSA and GEL who look to us with high expectations and who always keep us clued in on what the world looks like from the LGBTQ perspective. It is our distinct pleasure and honor to work with you all, and we thank you for everything you have taught us over the years.

Finally, I want to thank you all for coming out here and celebrating this event with us. We have a wonderful program ahead of us. Again, welcome, and thank you for your support.

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