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S.W. Florida Daily News


New College of Florida organize alternative grad ceremony in protest

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New College of Florida, a public liberal arts college, is organizing an alternative graduation ceremony in protest against the standardized ceremony being held virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic. The alternative ceremony, titled “Solidarity and Community in the Time of Coronavirus,” is set to include speeches and performances by graduating students and faculty members. While the college has recognized the virtual ceremony as official, the alternative ceremony offers a chance for students to come together and celebrate their achievements in a more personalized and meaningful way.

New College of Florida organizes alternative graduation ceremony in protest

Graduation is a time of celebration, reflection, and recognition. It’s the culmination of years of hard work, dedication, and sacrifice. For many students, it’s also a time to say farewell to friends, professors, and institutions that have helped shape their lives. But for the class of 2021 at New College of Florida, graduation was also an opportunity to speak out against social injustice, institutional inequality, and the limitations of traditional ceremonies.

The reasons behind the alternative graduation

The decision to organize an alternative graduation ceremony was not an easy one. It was the result of months of dialogue, research, and planning. According to student organizers, the alternative ceremony was intended to address several concerns about the traditional graduation, including its exclusionary nature, lack of diversity, and limited reflection of student experiences.

The alternative ceremony, which was held on May 8th in a park near the campus, featured speeches from students, faculty, and community leaders who addressed issues such as racial inequality, environmental justice, and mental health. The event also included performances by local musicians and artists, as well as an open mic session for students to share their personal stories and reflections.

The impact of the ceremony

The alternative ceremony received widespread support from the New College community, as well as national and international attention. Many students, faculty, and alumni praised the event for its inclusivity, creativity, and authenticity. They also acknowledged the symbolic significance of the ceremony, as a statement against mainstream traditions and a call for change.

The alternative ceremony also sparked conversations about the role and responsibility of higher education in addressing social issues, and the power of students to bring about meaningful change. Several institutions and organizations have since reached out to the New College community to express their support and solidarity.

However, the alternative ceremony also faced some criticism and challenges. Some students and faculty members expressed concern that the event could be seen as divisive or disrespectful towards those who chose to participate in the traditional ceremony. Others questioned whether the alternative ceremony would have a lasting impact on institutional practices and policies.

The legacy and future of the alternative graduation

The alternative graduation ceremony at New College has become a powerful symbol of student activism, creativity, and resilience. It has challenged traditional notions of graduation and provided a platform for students to voice their concerns and aspirations. It has also highlighted the importance of collaboration, inclusivity, and creativity in creating meaningful change.

The alternative graduation ceremony has opened up new possibilities for dialogue, reflection, and action within and beyond the New College community. It has inspired other institutions and organizations to rethink their graduation ceremonies and engage with students in more meaningful and inclusive ways.

The legacy and future of the alternative graduation ceremony will depend on how the New College community and other institutions respond to its message and vision. It will require sustained efforts to address and overcome the structural, cultural, and institutional barriers that hinder equity and justice in higher education and society at large.

Graduation is not just a ceremony, but a moment of transformation and transition. The alternative graduation ceremony at New College has shown that this moment can also be a catalyst for social change, creativity, and hope. It has reminded us that graduation is not the end, but the beginning of a new journey towards a more just and sustainable world.


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