The Rainbow Graduation Celebration honors the achievements of Rutgers lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual (LGBTQIA+) identified undergraduate and graduate students. The event acknowledges the challenges and triumphs experienced in their careers here at Rutgers University. We use this occasion to honor students who have continued our traditions of pride and activism. The celebration is a complement to a traditional graduation ceremony such as University Commencement or other celebrations hosted by academic departments. Graduating students who register will receive a Rainbow Graduation certificate as well as a rainbow graduation tassel (limited supply only).
Graduating seniors, required registration closes Friday, April 23, 2021.
Awards and Recognition
Want to nominate someone for an award or recognition? Nominations close Wednesday, April 14, 2021.
The Lionel Cuffie Award for Activism and Excellence will be given to a graduating senior who identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual or queer spectrum (LGBTQIA+) and has contributed substantially to growing and supporting the LGBTQIA+ community during their Rutgers tenure. The awardee will receive an award and a gift of $500.
More about Lionel Cuffie: Lionel Cuffie was the founder of Rutgers’ first LGBTQIA+ student organization in 1969. The organization, then called the Student Homophile League, still exists today over 50 years later as the Queer Student Alliance. Lionel Cuffie graduated in 1972 and went on to inspire young activists across the country, eventually studying at Harvard University. He was also well known in New York’s literary scene. Tragically, Cuffie passed away from AIDS-related complications in 1985. Cuffie and several other former Rutgers students, faculty, and staff lost in the epidemic were commemorated as part of the AIDS Memorial Quilt.
LGBTQIA+ Taskforce Awards: In February of 1988, the former President of Rutgers University, Edward J. Bloustein, created the President’s Select Committee for Lesbian-Gay Concerns whose mission it was to address the issues of LGBTQIA+ students as well as University faculty members. In the spring of 1988, the Select Committee for Lesbian and Gay Concerns assembled and presented specific courses of action the university could take to seriously mitigate the injustices directed towards the LGBTQIA+ community on campus.
Today, we recognize the labor of outstanding undergraduate leaders with LGBTQIA+ Taskforce Awards.
The Dr. Cheryl Clarke Award: In 1992, the Center for Social Justice Education & LGBT Communities was founded under the direction of Dr. Cheryl Clarke. Today we honor Dr. Clarke’s legacy with an award in her name which is granted to a faculty or staff member who has advocated for the LGBTQIA+ community within their roles on campus.
- Current Rutgers faculty or staff member
- Demonstrates high level of involvement and advocacy for LGBTQIA+ communities at Rutgers
More about Dr. Cheryl Clarke’s legacy: At its founding, the office was designed to monitor the implementation of policies aimed at creating an environment free of fear, violence, or harassment. Dr. Clarke oversaw the creation of the Bias Prevention and Education committee, disability services, and played a leadership role on the newly formed Committee to Advance our Common Purposes. Dr. Clarke also continued advising LGBTQIA student organizations in their programming efforts. Further, Dr. Clarke established an LGBT Faculty/Staff Liaison program which allows trained faculty/staff members on the New Brunswick campus to serve as dedicated resources for LGBT students in their respective areas. Dr. Clarke served as director of the office until 2009, when she was elevated to Dean of Students for Livingston Campus. Dr. Clarke retired from Rutgers in 2013.
- Demonstrates leadership and campus involvement in LGBTQIA+ communities at Rutgers
- Commitment to positive change on campus which advances LGBTQIA+ communities
- May be awarded to graduate students, faculty, staff, alumni, or other Rutgers community member
Dr. Zaneta Rago-Craft was hired by the Center for Social Justice Education & LGBT Communities in 2012 as Assistant Director. Zaneta’s leadership brought the creation of our first thematic program series dedicated to trans experiences (Trans Visibility & Empowerment Week) and our first ever LGBTQIA+ Welcome Week. After being elevated to Director in 2014, her advocacy supported the creation of gender-inclusive housing options on campus, the implementation of a preferred name system, and improvements to trans-affirming healthcare on campus. Under Dr. Rago-Craft’s leadership, the office was repeatedly recognized as being among the top 30 most LGBT-friendly campuses by Campus Pride.
We have a rich tradition of activism and advocacy among LGBTQIA+ student leaders at Rutgers University–New Brunswick. The “Service to Community” recognition acknowledges the work that student leaders do above and beyond the scope of SJE and affiliated student organizations.
We recognize outstanding graduate students for their contributions to SJE and for their active participation in advocacy and community building efforts.
We invite community members to register and attend the event to support our honorees and graduating students!
Join the RU Rainbow Alumni League!
@rurainbowalum on social media
What is the mission of the RU Rainbow Alumni League?
The Rutgers University Rainbow Alumni League represents and promotes the interests and liberation of the LGBTQIA+ alumni of the university, and all alumni within the diverse spectrum of gender and sexuality.
1. Honoring the legacy and history of LGBTQIA+ advocacy at Rutgers
2. Promoting a diverse, inclusive, and affirmative environment within the university
3. Maintaining an active and engaged alumni community that contributes to the greater good of the university through service, philanthropy, and advocacy
4. Fostering and sustaining a sense of community among LGBTQIA+ alumni and the larger alumni community, serving as a bridge between current and future alumni
5. Supporting, mentoring, and advocating for the LGBTQIA+ students of the university
6. Building partnerships through collaboration with the Rutgers Center for Social Justice Education and LGBT Communities – New Brunswick, the Intercultural Resource Center – Newark, Points of contacts at Camden, RBHS, and all Rutgers organizations that can help advance our goals.