Safety, Policies & Security

All individuals attending the Valedictory Exercises and both Final Exercises ceremonies, including, graduates, faculty, staff, and guests will be subject to security screening, utilizing metal detectors, before entering the Lawn or John Paul Jones Arena. 

All bags must comply with the University's clear bag guidelines and are subject to search, which may result in entry delays to the Lawn or John Paul Jones Arena.

Individuals wearing outer garments, such as academic robes or coats, will be requested to open them for visual inspection. To facilitate a smoother entry into the assembly areas, graduates and faculty are encouraged to robe after passing through the security checkpoint. 


To provide a safer environment for guests and to ease entry into event venues, Clear Bags are required for Valedictory Exercises and the Final Exercises ceremonies. 

  • One clear plastic bag no larger than 12" x 6" x 12" or a one-gallon, clear, re-sealable plastic storage bag (per person). 

  • Small clutch wallet no larger than 4.5" x 6.5"

Clear Bag Policy

Complimentary Bag Check

  • Space is limited, and service operates on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Bag check locations will close at 2 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday.
  • Please ensure that all bags are retrieved by 2 p.m. Any bags remaining after this time will be transferred to the University Police Department on Ivy Road. 
  • You can find bag check locations in Monroe Hall (near the Garrett Hall Entrance) and under the tent near Randall Hall on the East Lawn.



While balloons add a festive touch to celebrations, their presence can hinder access to assembly areas, disrupt processions, and obstruct the view for many. We strongly advise against graduates bringing balloons. 

If you choose to bring balloons:

  • DO NOT release balloons into the air.

    • Effective July 1, 2021, it is illegal in the Commonwealth of Virginia to intentionally release balloons outdoors.   

  • Balloons are PROHIBITED in the following locations:
    • John Paul Jones Arena
    • ALL Intramural-Recreational Sports facilities
    • Newcomb Hall 
    • Old Cabell Hall

Consider contributing to a meaningful cause:

  • DONATE your balloons to the UVA Children's Hospital 

    • The Office of Sustainability will have volunteers on the lower Lawn, collecting balloons from graduating students as they process to their seats. 


Five pictures of people collecting balloons for UVA Children's Hospital and the Logo for UVA children's hospital
Banners, Signs and Flags

During ceremonies and events, items currently approved and authorized to be carried are placards that are not attached to sticks or poles as long as those placards are not so large or unwieldly as to obstruct or interfere with the official ceremony or event. Items held or carried must not obscure the view of participants or invited visitors or interfere with these official ceremonies and events. 

Permitted Items
  • Binoculars

  • Cameras

  • Flowers

    • No glass vases permitted.   
  • Seat Cushions

  • Service Animals

  • Strollers

    • For convenience in the limited space on the Lawn, umbrella strollers are recommended over large strollers. 
    • Once in the seating area on the Lawn, strollers should be folded and placed under the seat.
    • Strollers are NOT permitted at John Paul Jones Arena. 
  • Water Bottles

    • Water bottles must be factory sealed or refillable.
    • Glass water bottles are not permitted.
  • Umbrellas

Prohibited Items

The University of Virginia reserves the right to inspect the contents of any container brought into the venues. In the interest of ensuring the safety of all attendees, the following items are strictly prohibited.

Please refrain from attempting to bring these or similar articles into the venue, as items will not be stored at entrances or venues for retrieval after the ceremony.  

  • Alcoholic Beverages

  • Animals (except service animals)

  • Artificial Noisemakers

    • Examples: Air horns, thunder sticks, musical instruments, cans filled with contents, whistles, cow bells, megaphones, sirens or any other item used to produce artificial noise.   
  • Balls, Frisbees and similar items

  • Coolers / Containers 

  • Fireworks, Weapons and any Explosives

    • Note: Final Exercises are considered "educational activities" and the prohibition of these items applies to members of the University community, the general public and visitors in accordance with University Policy and Regulations.
  • Flasks

  • Folding Chairs or Stools

  • Glass Bottles, Containers, and Vases

  • Hoverboards/Skateboards

  • Laser Pointers

  • Selfie Sticks, Sticks, and Poles

  • Sports Equipment

  • Tents

    • Note: Only tents arranged by the university (including pop-up tents) are permitted on Central Grounds during Finals Weekend.
  • Unmanned Aircrafts (Drones)

University Policy SEC-039: Protests, Demonstrations, and Other Expressive Activities during Official University Ceremonies and Events held at the Academical Village

The University policy “SEC-039: Protests, Demonstrations, and Other Expressive Activities during Official University Ceremonies and Events held at the Academical Village” is available here.

University Policy PRM-017: Duties Toward Speakers and Use of University Facilities or Property

The University policy “PRM-017: Duties Toward Speakers and Use of University Facilities or Property” is available here.

University Policy SEC-030: Regulation of Weapons, Fireworks, Explosives, and Other Prohibited Items

The University policy “SEC-030: Regulation of Weapons, Fireworks, Explosives, and Other Prohibited Items” is available here.