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Message to Graduating Students

May 16, 2019
Graduating Students
Allen W. Groves, University Dean of Students

This weekend represents a significant occasion in your life as well as in the life of the University. We will officially conclude the academic year by celebrating you, our newest degree recipients, during Final Exercises. As you prepare to walk the Lawn on Saturday or Sunday, I write with my personal congratulations and also a few reminders.

Safety and Security. 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 if the rain site is needed). In particular, please keep the following in mind:

  • Everyone will be required to go through a metal detector.
  • A clear bag policy will be in effect.
  • Everyone wearing an outer garment, such as an academic robe or coat, will be asked to open it for a visual inspection.
  • Alcoholic beverages are not permitted.
  • A number of other items will not be allowed, including animals (except service animals), noisemakers, flasks, laser pointers, sticks and poles (including sports equipment). Selfie sticks, provided they are collapsible, will be allowed.
  • For complete details about security and prohibited items, please see the Finals website.

Arrival Time: You should arrive at your assembly area by no later than 8:45 a.m. on the day of your ceremony to allow adequate time to go through the security screening.

Balloons and Glitter. The negative environmental impact of mylar and plastic balloons is well documented. Please consider this in planning how you wish to mark this special day. If you do bring a balloon, we ask that you keep others in mind during Final Exercises, since the size of some balloons impedes the procession and blocks others’ views. For the first time this year, if you choose, you may donate your balloon to the UVA Children’s Hospital rather than releasing it into the air. Collection points will be on the Lower Lawn.

In addition, the use of glitter for photographs creates an arduous task for our facilities workers who have to remove the glitter from sidewalks and surrounding landscaping. As with balloons, glitter can be harmful to wildlife and the environment.

Decorum. The Lawn is a truly magnificent stage during Finals Weekend, and the setting is beyond compare for a celebration of academic achievement. Unfortunately, a few students miss this each year because they have over-indulged the evening before and physically are unable to participate in the Academic Procession down the Lawn.

While I recognize 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. I urge you to set some limits for yourself when celebrating, and to speak up if a friend seems to be overdoing it. Your graduation day should be a day to remember – for the right reasons.

Should you 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. If you are on the Corner Saturday or Sunday morning before your ceremony, please drop by 1515 for a free breakfast burrito, coffee, and “Hugs and High Fives” with Miss Kathy – employee Kathy Mcgruder of Newcomb Hall fame.

Walking the Lawn and taking your degree is a great achievement. You have worked hard to become a graduate of the University of Virginia who has thus "worn the honors of Honor." 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 on the Rotunda plaza Saturday and Sunday mornings. 

With warmest congratulations,

Allen W. Groves (Law ’90)
University Dean of Students