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Walking the Lawn

May 17, 2018

Tomorrow begins 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 Finals Weekend. As you prepare to walk the Lawn on Saturday or Sunday, I invite you to consider for a moment how you would like this weekend to unfold.

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 all of this each year because they have over-indulged the evening before and physically are unable to participate in the Academic Procession down the Lawn. Such behavior, either prior to or during the Final Exercises, does not match the sense of joy and celebration that should characterize the day for everyone.

While I recognize only a small number of students engage in this behavior, the few who do so 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 drinking. Protein, more than carbohydrates, will help slow down the effects of alcohol. It is also important to space your drinks as well as to alternate with water to stay hydrated. If you are on the Corner Saturday or Sunday morning before your ceremony, please drop by 1515 for "Breakfast with Miss Kathy." You will receive a free breakfast burrito if you are carrying or wearing your cap and gown. The breakfast will take place each day from 6 to 8:45 a.m.

With regard to safety and security for the weekend, 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.

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.

We encourage you not to bring items that will delay lines to access the Lawn, including balloons. If you do bring a balloon, we ask that you keep others in mind during Final Exercises, since the size of some balloons blocks others' views and impedes the procession.

In addition, the use of glitter for photographs creates an arduous duty for our facilities workers who have to remove the glitter from sidewalks and surrounding landscaping. Both glitter and balloons, when released, are not environmentally friendly.

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.

With warmest congratulations,

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