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Finals Weekend

Finals Weekend Policies, Public Safety & Security

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 Weeken is available here.

Prohibited Items at Valedictory and Final Exercises

For the safety of graduates and guests, the following items are prohibited at Valedictory Exercises and Final Exercises ceremonies on the Lawn or John Paul Jones Arena (severe-weather site):

  • 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 Weekend.
** 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.

Strollers: Umbrella strollers are encouraged due to the lack of space on the Lawn to accommodate large strollers. At John Paul Jones Arena, only umbrella strollers small enough to fit under the seats are allowed in the seating area.

Coolers: Coolers are discouraged given the limited space available in the seating area on the Lawn. For those needing coolers for medicine/health needs or items for infants, the coolers should fit under the seats on the Lawn (16” x 16” x 16” or smaller) and are subject to inspection.

In addition to the list above, backpacks, large bags, coolers, and balloons are prohibited in John Paul Jones Arena for all Finals Weekend events. 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 Valedictory Exercises and both Final Exercises ceremonies 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 will be subject to search which may delay entry into the venue (Lawn or the Arena). A “bag check lane” will be available for guests who choose to bring a bag with them.

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.  

The hours of operation of the security checkpoints will be:

Friday: 1:30 p.m. until end of the Valedictory Exercises ceremony

To access the Lawn, everyone must go through one of two security checkpoints:

  • West side – in front of Garrett Hall
  • East side – between Rouss Hall and Pavilion X

Saturday and Sunday: 7:30 a.m. until end of the Final Exercises ceremony

To access the Lawn:

  • Guests must go through one of two security checkpoints:
    • West side – in front of Garrett Hall
    • East side – between Rouss Hall and Pavilion X
  • Graduates enter through checkpoints located at the entrances of the designated assembly areas around the Rotunda. Assembly diagrams for Saturday and Sunday will be available in the Spring.
    • Note:  Graduates do not need a ticket for Final Exercises. Their cap and gown serve as their ticket for access to the Lawn and John Paul Jones Arena (severe-weather site). Without a cap and gown, graduates will not be allowed entry to the Lawn or Arena. For information on obtaining academic regalia, click here.
  • Faculty can enter through the following designated checkpoints:
    • Saturday – North steps of the Rotunda (East or West side)
    • Sunday – North steps of the Rotunda (East or West side), Poe Alley, Rotunda Alley, or Green Alley
      • Note:  Faculty members do not need a ticket for Final Exercises.  Their cap and gown serve as their ticket for access to the Lawn and John Paul Jones Arena (severe-weather site). For information on obtaining rental academic regalia, click here. Faculty members who plan to participate in the academic procession and not wear a cap and gown should contact the Office of Major Events at 924-0996 or uvaome@virginia.edu to arrange for access to the Lawn (or JPJ).