Guests at UT’s commencement ceremonies next week can expect some extra security, including bag checks and a ban on large bags.
“This is something we’ve been going toward for years, and the Boston bombings were the catalyst,” UTPD lieutenant and special events coordinator Dennis Chartier tells the Alcalde. “We want to keep everybody safe.”
Chartier calls the balance between security and freedom a “constant challenge” for campus police and administrators. “We certainly don’t want to make it a police state, and we want people to feel free to enjoy the event,” he explains. “If you want one event to go off perfectly, this is the one.”
The decision to tighten security was made by a committee of several University vice presidents, Chartier says. The new rules apply not only to the University-wide commencement ceremony on May 18, but also to all college and school commencement events.
Here’s what graduates and their guests can expect:
- Backpacks, tote bags, and other large bags are banned. Don’t bring a bag larger than 12 in. in any dimension to commencement—you won’t be allowed to bring it in.
- To skip the line, don’t bring a bag at all. Purses and other small bags—such as camera bags—are still permitted, but Chartier says there will be separate lines for bag checks and guests with no bags. “You’ll get in faster if you don’t bring any bag,” he says.
- Don’t bring a cooler, picnic basket, lawn chair, or large stroller. These items have been prohibited for several years.
- Don’t bring anything that can’t be opened and checked by security. Wrapped gifts are probably a bad idea.
- Show up early—but not too early. Guests have always needed to arrive about an hour and a half before the 8 p.m. ceremony to get a seat, Chartier says, and this year you might want to get there a little earlier. “But there’s no need to show up before about 4 p.m.,” he adds. “That’s when we’ll start seating people.”
- Expect a more visible security presence. More police officers and security cameras will be present than in years past.
UT is encouraging guests with questions about commencement to contact the University Events office.
Commencement 2005 (Texas Exes file photo).