Rainbow Graduation

26th Annual Rainbow Graduation 2024

Wednesday, May 1, 2024
5 – 8 PM, In-Person at the College Avenue Student Center
(126 College Avenue, New Brunswick, NJ 08901)

Rainbow Graduation honors the achievements of Rutgers lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and nonbinary, queer, intersex, asexual, and other queer spectrum (LGBTQIA+) 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).

All graduates must complete registration in order to be formally recognized at the ceremony. 

Family and friends of graduating students as well as other supporters are encouraged to register. 

Graduating Senior Registration & All Guest RSVP

Graduating seniors, required registration closes Monday, April 22, 2024. 

For any questions or concerns, email us at sje@echo.rutgers.edu




Awards and Recognition

Lionel Cuffie Award

The Lionel Cuffie Award for Activism and Excellence will be given to a graduating senior (undergraduate student) 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.

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.

Award criteria:

  • 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.

Dr. Zaneta Rago-Craft Award

The Dr. Zaneta Rago-Craft award will be granted to outstanding members of our community who offer exceptional leadership, campus involvement and commitment to campus change. 

Award criteria:

  • 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.

Service to Community Recognition

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.

Special Recognition of Graduate Students

We recognize outstanding graduate students for their contributions to SJE and for their active participation in advocacy and community building efforts.

Want to nominate someone for an award or recognition? Nominations close April 16, 2024.

Award Nomination

Parking at Rainbow Graduation

Special Event parking is available. Visitors may park in Lots 26, 30 & College Avenue Deck. 

Guests must use the below link to register for the event. They must enter an email address where they will receive a confirmation. Until this process is completed vehicles are not registered and guests may receive a citation. 

Special Event parking does not include metered parking or allow free parking to faculty, staff, or students. 

Rutgers affiliated Faculty, Staff and Students must have a Rutgers parking permit (Semester, Daily, or Event) and park accordingly. Faculty, Staff, and 

Students parking without a parking permit or outside their parking permit assignment will be subjected to ticketing and/or towing.

Register your vehicle here!

Rainbow Rutgers flagInterested in getting involved with our LGBTQIA+ alumni group?

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.

Goals Include:

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.

Snapchat QR CodeCheck out our virtual graduate stole on Snapchat!

Be sure to tag @RUSJELGBT when you share on social!
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