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With 20,000 people expected to attend Boston University’s 140th Commencement exercises and the bombing at the Boston Marathon just four weeks in the past, the University is rolling out a new security plan to ensure the safety of all graduates and visitors Commencement weekend, May 17 to May 19.

Graduates and guests should be prepared for increased security during the weekend.

“Following these guidelines should mean very little delay in the days’ activities,” says BU Police Chief Thomas Robbins. “We are taking this action to make things as secure as we can.”

Robbins says police at Boston University and other area schools and colleges discussed options for commencement security, and all of them “decided that the prudent course of action is to take these measures for people’s safety.”

The measures are as follows:

  • All students, faculty, staff, guests, and vendors will be subject to screening when entering a Commencement weekend venue, possibly with a metal-detecting wand.
  • Only normal size handbags, purses, and camera bags will be allowed, and they will be physically inspected prior to entry.
  • No other bags, gift bags, wrapped gifts, packages, briefcases, backpacks, or luggage will be allowed in a Commencement or Convocation venue, including Nickerson Field.
  • Graduates and faculty should carry their robes into event venues and then dress in designated lineup areas.

Guests who are not carrying a bag may use an express entrance lane, and BU Police will monitor all entry points. If guests have packages or bags that are not permitted, they may leave them at a self-check area adjacent to the venues. Self-check areas will be monitored by security and swept by bomb-detection dogs as needed. The University will not provide a claim check process and will not be responsible for packages left in the self-check area.

Venues will be staffed by professional safety personnel from RSIG, the contract security services firm that oversees all Agganis Arena concerts. Bomb-sniffing dogs from the Boston Police Department and the Massachusetts State Police will check specific venues and open areas, including bag storage and checkpoint areas. As in previous years, the main stage at Nickerson Field will be cleared before the start of the Commencement exercises by canine and Explosive Ordnance Disposal specialists.

“I have no doubt that with the caliber of the faculty and staff who will be working that day this will be a smooth Commencement,” says Dean of Students Kenneth Elmore (SED’87). “It will defy your expectations and make sure everyone stays safe.”

The April 15 Boston Marathon attacks killed three people—including BU student Lu Lingzi (GRS’14)—and injured 264.

More information can be found on the Commencement website.