Diversity Graduation Tassel Sparks Debate at George Washington University

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George Washington University (GWU) recently announced that it plans to offer students who complete at least eight weeks of diversity and inclusion training prior to graduation a “diversity graduation cord” to wear with their traditional robe and cap.

Created by the Multicultural Student Services Center at GWU — a division dedicated to providing a safe space for students to explore, embrace, and share their diverse identities and experiences — this program includes training focused on topics such as unconscious bias, LGBTQIA safe zones, and gendered language. In addition to the diversity graduation tassel, students completing the program will receive a pin for each competency and a certificate.

According to GWU’s website, the training is designed to “equip students and staff with the necessary skills to promote diversity and inclusion in the different environments in which they find themselves frequently.”

However, some are critical of the initiative, saying it does more harm than good.

Diego Rebollar, a member of GWU’s Young Americans for Freedom chapter, says the university is not fair in its diversity and inclusion efforts. “As a Mexican immigrant, I recognize the importance of diversity,” he said in a statement. “However, when the student government gives six times as much funding to the College Democrats than it [does] to the College Republicans, it shows that the university is not consistent in its commitment to diversity.”

“Programs like these openly push liberal ideas of ‘diversity,’ but [efforts are] nowhere to be found when it comes to intellectual diversity, the most important kind of diversity on a college campus,” Rebollar added.

Debates such as this have been trending on college campuses. At the University of Kansas, for example, a group of students recently protested during a meeting regarding the creation of safe spaces on campus after a transgender student claimed she was harassed walking to class.