Dear Graduating Students:
Congratulations! This weekend, we will officially celebrate you, our newest degree recipients, during Final Exercises. As you prepare to walk the Lawn, I write to congratulate you on your achievement and provide several reminders.
Predicted temperatures will be hot this weekend, especially on Saturday. You and your guests are encouraged to wear lightweight attire and comfortable shoes. Remember the sunscreen, too! For both graduates and guests, we will be taking extra measures to ensure safety and comfort:
- Check the Lawn Overview Diagram for where to find water, medical help, restrooms, and other services.
- Bottled water will be available for graduates during lineup, and water and compostable cups will be available for guests at several spots on the Lawn.
- Five remote viewing locations will be available for those without tickets or unable to tolerate the heat.
- Two buildings will be open as cooling areas each day: Cocke and Rouss/Robertson halls on Saturday and Cocke and Wilson halls on Sunday.
- Your guests may also watch Valedictory and Final Exercises via the livestream.
As explained in the recent message to the UVA community, if you are experiencing any of the symptoms of COVID-19, please do not attend the public ceremonies, even if you have tested negative for COVID-19 in advance of your arrival. We strongly recommend being fully up to date on your COVID-19 vaccinations and booster shots as well as wearing masks while attending indoor events or riding on buses and shuttles.
Breakfast with Ms. Kathy at 1515, Saturday and Sunday, 6-8:30 a.m.
Before lining up at the Rotunda for your walk down the Lawn, be sure to stop by 1515 on the Corner to say goodbye to Ms. Kathy of Newcomb Hall fame and pick up a free breakfast burrito and coffee or water. A tradition for several years now, this informal event gives you some quick nourishment for the day along with a chance to receive well-wishes from Ms. Kathy. Special thanks to the UVA Parents Committee for funding this event. Hosted by the Division of Student Affairs.
Finals Weekend is a special occasion for graduates and their loved ones. Unfortunately, a few students miss the special moments each year because they have over-indulged the evening before and physically are unable to participate in the academic procession or ceremony.
While only a small number of students engage in this behavior, the few who do spoil the occasion for many others and disappoint their parents and guests. Please set some limits for yourself when celebrating, and speak up if a friend seems to be overdoing it. Your graduation day should be a day to remember – for the right reasons.
If you do choose to drink alcohol, please do so in moderation. It is important to eat protein before and while you are consuming alcoholic beverages. Protein, more than carbohydrates, will help slow down the effects of alcohol. It is also important to space your drinks as well as alternate with water to stay hydrated.
Balloons and Glitter
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 or hand them to volunteers who will be collecting them to take to patients at the UVA Children’s Hospital. Effective July 1, 2021, it is illegal in the Commonwealth of Virginia to intentionally release a balloon outdoors.
As with balloons, nonbiodegradable glitter and confetti (bottle corks, too) are harmful to wildlife and the environment.
Using these items for photographs creates an arduous cleanup process for our facilities staff who do their best to keep the sidewalks and surrounding landscaping looking nice. Already this spring, workers have spent numerous hours cleaning up celebratory glitter, confetti, and corks.
Assembly Areas for Graduates
Whether your ceremony takes place on Saturday or Sunday, please plan to be at your designated assembly point no later than 8:45 a.m. The procession will begin at 10 a.m. Guests should be seated no later than 9:15 a.m.
To reach the assembly areas, all graduates will go through a security checkpoint. Diagrams of the assembly areas can be found on the website.
Security Policies and Reminders
Various security precautions will be in place for weekend events:
Metal detectors: Metal detectors will be used at the designated entrance points onto the Lawn (for Final Exercises both days) and into John Paul Jones Arena (for Valedictory Exercises on Friday).
Clear Bag Policy: Attendees (graduates and guests) must adhere to the clear bag policy as outlined on the website, and certain items are prohibited at both Valedictory and Final Exercises.
If in doubt, leave it behind. Both graduates and guests attending Final Exercises are encouraged not to bring items that will delay lines to access the Lawn or John Paul Jones Arena.
Walking the Lawn and taking your degree is a great achievement. Finals Weekend is a special time to savor and to remember. I wish you much happiness as you celebrate with family and friends, and as you take the next steps into your future. I look forward to seeing you this weekend.
With warmest congratulations,
Julie I. Caruccio
Interim Dean of Students