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Information for Families & Guests

Event Attendee's Affirmation Policy

Registering for and attending events at William & Mary conveys a shared expectation of abiding by university policy, which is subject to change as conditions warrant. As of September 21, 2021, those requirements include appropriately masking indoors in shared spaces, except when actively eating or drinking. Masks outdoors are optional and encouraged in large gatherings. COVID-19 vaccination is required of all William & Mary students, faculty and staff, and it is strongly encouraged for all external visitors in alignment with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance. We create these shared expectations of event participants in keeping with William & Mary’s core values of Belonging within this community and Respect for one another as individuals, and in recognition of the risks inherent to gathering amid pandemic.

The Commencement Committee is working to craft the best possible experience for graduates and guests, including holding graduation ceremonies in Kaplan Arena. There will continue to be a virtual option for those who cannot be on campus in person. 

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Stay Up to Date

Families may sign-up to receive email updates leading up to Commencement Weekend. We will use that information to also keep you updated on any changes or inclement weather during Commencement weekend. You can also review the latest email messages sent to the Class of 2020.

Need information or have questions?
Commencement Schedule and General Information

Office of Student Affairs
757-221-1236
[[commencement, Commencement Planning Team]]

Regalia and General Graduation Merchandise

W&M Bookstore
757-221-1669

Tickets

Class of 2020 graduates had an opportunity to request tickets during the Commencement registration period (July 1- July 31). If a graduate missed the registration window, they may still contact [[commencement]] to receive a registration link and request guest tickets.

Tickets are electronic and will be emailed to graduates in early October. Graduates may then forward the tickets to their guests to display on their phone, or guests may print out the tickets to be scanned. If using a phone, guests should have the tickets open and ready for scanning when you reach the entry gate. Each ticket scans only once, so electronic tickets may not be duplicated. 

Guests must wear a mask in order to enter Kaplan Arena. Ushers will not scan tickets of guests who are not wearing a mask.

Parking
  • Download the parking map (pdf) for an overview of the recommended parking areas.
  • For short-term ceremony parking (i.e. must move car after ceremony ends) we recommend the Kaplan Arena Parking Lot, Compton Parking Lot and Yates Parking Lot. For long-term day parking, use the Parking Deck on Ukrop Way.
  • The student Walk Across Campus (pdf) will significantly slow traffic along Ukrop Way for up to 30 minutes beginning at approximately 8:45 a.m. and 1:45 p.m. Campus entry from Richmond Road or Monticello Avenue/Compton Drive will have much easier access to the Kaplan Arena lots.
  • Guests with limited mobility who display either an ADA tag or limited mobility access pass (provided electronically to the graduating student) will be permitted to drop off at the limited mobility entrance (pdf) to Kaplan Arena. The driver will then be directed to park near Kaplan Arena.
Prohibited Items for Kaplan Arena

The prohibited items list is for the enjoyment and safety of Commencement guests. This list is subject to change as conditions warrant. 

  • Backpacks (exceptions: diaper bags, string backpacks)
  • Bags measuring larger than 1’ x 1’ x 1’
  • Outside food & drink (except for factory sealed non-alcoholic beverages, no larger than one liter; juice boxes, factory sealed infant snacks, and baby food). 
  • Camera tripods / monopods / selfie-sticks
  • Firearms and other weapons
  • Laptop computers
  • Alcohol, use of any tobacco products, or illegal substances
  • E-cigarettes and vapor apparatuses
  • Noisemakers, laser pointers, balls, frisbees, inflatable objects
  • Coolers, ice chests
  • Pets
  • Strollers
  • Umbrellas
  • Anything deemed unsafe by police or event staff
Seating
  • Seating for guests is General Admission. See seating diagram (pdf)
  • Some rows will be blocked off in order to maintain social distancing between groups
  • Guests may sit together with their own social group, but should separate from other guest groups by at least 3 seats
  • Children 2 and younger do not require a ticket
  • Graduates will be seated on the arena floor
  • Graduates participating in the ceremony do not require a ticket
Accessibility Accommodations
  • Wheelchair/limited mobility guests will be able to drop-off at the access ramp (pdf) behind Kaplan Arena.
  • Guests who can climb some steps will be ushered to lower rows of seating we have reserved and may sit with one companion.
  • Guests who cannot climb stairs will be ushered to the limited mobility seating area on the arena floor and may sit with one companion.
  • Guests in wheelchairs or scooters will be ushered to the limited mobility seating area on the arena floor and may sit with one companion.
  • We will have American Sign Language interpreters at each ceremony. Guests requiring live ASL interpretation will receive a vehicle access pass in order to drop off at the access ramp
  • Live closed captioning will be available on the ceremony livestreams.
Ceremony Timeline

Entrances (pdf) will open 60 minutes before the start of each ceremony. The ceremony begins with the student processional entering the arena. Each ceremony will last approximately two hours. Each graduate will cross the stage to have their name read.

Exiting the Arena

At the end of the ceremony, students will process out of the arena. Once students have exited, we ask all guests to pick up any personal belongings, deposit trash and recycling in the appropriate bins, and exit the arena as efficiently as possible so that we can prepare for the next ceremony. 

We also ask guests to please move their vehicles shortly after the ceremony ends so that we can prepare parking for the next ceremony.

Other Viewing Options

Live-streaming of the Commencement ceremonies for the Class of 2020 will be available.

Special Lodging Rates

Some area hotels and B&B's offer discounts to W&M guests and visitors. Contact the hotels directly to ask about any special lodging rates.