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Security Bolstered at Commencement

Graduates, faculty to carry robes, dress inside venues


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 prior to 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 about Commencement can be found on the Commencement website.

Amy Laskowski

Amy Laskowski can be reached at amlaskow@bu.edu.

24 Comments on Security Bolstered at Commencement

  • Sky on 05.08.2013 at 7:49 am

    All aboard the fear mongering train!

    • Jeff on 05.08.2013 at 9:42 am

      ^Look how edgy and “alternative” he is. I’m convinced; time to stop being a sheep.

    • Would you rather? on 05.08.2013 at 10:08 am

      Would you rather have a repeat of the Boston Marathon, whose tragic events could have been avoided with better vigilance by the police?
      12 years removed from 9/11, security has become lax. The police have been lauded as ‘heros’ for their investigative work yet were asleep at the wheel during the marathon.

      • WorkSmarter on 05.08.2013 at 11:22 am

        Please elaborate on how the police were asleep at the wheel during the marathon.

        • Well let's see... on 05.08.2013 at 4:08 pm

          2 people in 2 different spots placed knapsacks down and walked away. Proper surveillance of the crowd may have detected that sort of suspicious behavior. Instead, police believe that as long as they are visible and present, we must somehow be safe. I see it all the time in Penn Station in NY. Cops lining the walls of stations and BSing with each other. Doesn’t make me feel any safer just having them stand around.

        • Well let's see... on 05.08.2013 at 4:56 pm

          The BPD commissioner seems to agree with me.

          Quote from bostonherald.com:

          “… Our job is to prevent these things,” Davis said. “So when something like this happens, you have to look at every single item, everything that we did in preparation so we can ensure that this doesn’t happen again.”

      • LarryO on 05.08.2013 at 11:43 am

        You have no idea what you are talking about. Security has been very strong at the finish line and Copley Square for many, many years. As a 10 year Marathon volunteer in Copley Square, I can personally attest to this.

        The Marathon is an event open to the public along 26 miles of road. To protect every foot of 52 miles of sidelines would require many thousands of Police and National Guard personnel. You want to screen every person along the route? Check every bag? Add another thousand Guardsmen.

        The death and injury toll would have been significantly higher if the terrorists were able to get closer to the finish area than they actually did.
        Thank God those “asleep at the wheel” Police and security personnel were there to deter a threat like that!

    • anon on 05.08.2013 at 10:51 am

      Yeah, this is way out of proportion to the level of actual threat, it just stresses me out more honestly.

      • WorkSmarter on 05.08.2013 at 11:24 am

        If they didn’t take these precautions, people like the poster above would say that the police and BU officials are asleep at the wheel.

      • Dan on 05.08.2013 at 12:26 pm

        With all of the school shootings recently and a bombing just miles away less than a month ago, you don’t think security is necessary for an event with 20,000 people sitting in a small field? Not to mention the high profile people that will be there as well as media coverage.

      • Doug on 05.08.2013 at 12:29 pm

        I definitely agree with anon; the marathon is an international event that has twenty-five thousand in the actual race, while there are probably hundreds of school graduations across the country right now.

  • Shanadeen Begay on 05.08.2013 at 9:27 am

    Thanks Dean Elmore.

  • Graduate Student on 05.08.2013 at 9:57 am

    Things like this make me so happy I come from a country where these things are barely even a concern. Looking forward to going home.

    • Jim in NOLA on 05.08.2013 at 9:29 pm

      Yeah, we’re looking forward to it as well. Glad you could get an education in our country, lambast it, then scurry back home.

      If life is so grand in your country, why not get your education there?

      Sorry, but it irks me to see folks come to our country to gain their advantage, then criticize it because it’s imperfect.

  • R on 05.08.2013 at 10:00 am

    It’s basically just what all other area colleges are doing…

  • JP on 05.08.2013 at 1:05 pm

    last year at commencement, as an attendee, it was incredibly easy to get in and out of Nickerson. The whole production felt seamless (I think they even provided bottled water?) Despite it being a massive ceremony with tens of thousands in attendance, it felt organized, seamless, quick and painless.

    I cannot imagine how this is going to slow down the process of getting in and getting out of the venue. Actually, I can–it’s going to be a nightmare.

  • Marybeth on 05.08.2013 at 3:32 pm

    As an alumnus and a parent of a graduating senior I sincerely appreciate Dean Elmore’s informative statement of what to expect and what to bring (or not bring). I also would expect no less than this level of security, after all I haven’t stepped into any stadium in the last 10 years without similar precautions and bag checks. I am comforted in knowing that BU is working within the latest standards for large crowd security. Thank you and I expect a wonderful weekend and am not concerned in the least about any minor inconvenience to me or my family.

  • Brian Gambi on 05.08.2013 at 4:39 pm

    State of fear. Good book, read it

  • why... on 05.08.2013 at 7:14 pm

    Seriously? Being from NYC it’s been a sad process watching Boston become more uptight. The bombing was terrible. We know that it was the plot of two radicals. We shouldn’t lock down the world around us. I can understand some security measures being taken for the Nickerson Field convocation, but do we really need security at every ceremony?

  • Tom on 05.08.2013 at 8:38 pm

    The BU tradition of whining and complaining and blaming lives on.

  • Anne on 05.08.2013 at 9:08 pm

    This is the world that we live in. I will be there watching my son graduate and I was expecting upgraded security in light of the Marathon Bombing. I am glad BU is being proactive and smart. My other sons go to MSU and this has been standard procedures for years and in fact you are not allowed to bring anything like purses, backpacks, small purses anything to large events like football games. My sons old high school does not even allow backpacks to classes. I thank BU for listening to experts and making this a great and safe event for all.

  • Mo on 05.08.2013 at 9:25 pm

    Security checks have been taking place at Fenway and Gillete since 9/11. People expect it and sadly, the world we’ve become ‘used’ to.

  • Mo on 05.08.2013 at 9:28 pm

    As inconvenient as it may be, I trust the University has the best interests of the public in mind.

  • mike on 05.10.2013 at 9:53 pm

    I think Boston police has already knew what they do

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