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Office of Major Events

Finals Weekend Policies, Public Safety & Security

To provide a safe environment for attendees, the University has implemented a clear bag policy and is utilizing metal detectors at Final Exercises. These security enhancements mirror those used for events at Scott Stadium and the John Paul Jones Arena. 

Security enhancements include:

  • Metal detectors: Metal detectors will be used at the designated entrance points onto the Lawn and all entrances into the John Paul Jones Arena.

  • Clear Bag Policy: Attendees will only be able to carry the following style and size bag onto the Lawn or into the John Paul Jones Arena:

    • A bag that is clear plastic, vinyl, or PVC and does not exceed 12”x6”x12”

    • A one-gallon clear plastic freezer bag (Ziploc bag or similar).

    • One small clutch bag, approximately the size of a hand, with or without a handle or strap can be taken to the event along with one clear plastic bag.

All other bags will not be permitted. A list of prohibited bags includes, but is not limited to: purses, backpacks, drawstring bags that are not clear, briefcases, coolers, fanny packs, luggage, computer bags, camera bags, binocular cases, and diaper bags.

Both graduates and guests attending Final Exercises are encouraged not to bring items that will delay lines to access the Lawn (please refer to the section below about balloons)

Prohibited Items:

  • Alcoholic beverages

  • Animals (except service animals)

  • Artificial noisemakers

  • Balls, frisbees, and similar items

  • Flasks

  • Folding chairs or stools

  • Laser pointers

  • Sticks and poles (including sports equipment)

  • Tents*

  • Unmanned aircraft systems (including drones)

  • Weapons, fireworks, and explosives**

* Only tents (including pop-up tents) arranged by the University are allowed on Central Grounds during Finals Exercises.
** Final Exercises are “educational activities” at which these items are prohibited for members of the University community, general public, and visitors in accordance with
University Policy and Regulation.

Balloons: Graduates are encouraged not to bring balloons to Final Exercises as a courtesy to all guests attending the ceremony. Although balloons are festive and celebratory, they can delay access into the assembly areas, impede the procession, and obstruct the view for many (example). If bringing a balloon to Final Exercises, please be mindful of others attending the ceremony as well as the environment. Please do not release balloons into the air, instead properly dispose of them in a trashcan when finished.

Balloons are prohibited in the John Paul Jones Arena, all Intramural-Recreational Sports facilities, Newcomb Hall, and Old Cabell Hall. 

Strollers: Umbrella strollers are encouraged due to the lack of space on the Lawn to accommodate large strollers. Once in the seating area on the Lawn, strollers should be folded and placed under the seat. Strollers are not allowed at the John Paul Jones Arena.

In addition to the list above, backpacks, large bags, and coolers are prohibited in John Paul Jones Arena. The arena is a smoke-free building (including e-cigarettes).

The University of Virginia reserves the right to prohibit any item deemed hazardous or disruptive to the ceremony or that interferes in the enjoyment of the event by others. 

Security Checkpoints

Everyone attending, including graduates, faculty, and guests will be subject to security screening before entering the Lawn or John Paul Jones Arena (severe-weather site). All bags must be in compliance with the University's clear bag policy and will be subject to search which may delay entry into the venue (Lawn or the Arena). 

Everyone wearing an outer garment such as an academic robe or coat will be asked to open it for a visual inspection. To expedite entry into the assembly areas, graduates and faculty are encouraged to robe after passing through the security checkpoint.  

Protests, Demonstrations and Other Expressive Activities

The University of Virginia respects and encourages free expressive activity by its students, faculty, and staff. At the same time, consistent with its educational mission, the University has established reasonable time, place and manner restrictions on such activities on University Grounds to assure that such activities are undertaken in ways that avoid disruption of University operations, and are consistent with its educational, employment, and safety responsibilities to its students, faculty, and staff. The University's policy on protests, demonstrations, and other expressive activities during Finals Weekend is available here.