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Bicentennial Launch Weekend Policies, Public Safety & Security

Protests, Demonstrations and Other Expressive Activities

The University of Virginia respects and encourages free expressive activity by its students, faculty, and staff. At the same time, consistent with its educational mission, the University has established reasonable time, place and manner restrictions on such activities on University Grounds to assure that such activities are undertaken in ways that avoid disruption of University operations, and are consistent with its educational, employment, and safety responsibilities to its students, faculty, and staff. The University's policy on protests, demonstrations, and other expressive activities during Bicentennial Launch Weekend is available here.

Prohibited Items at Bicentennial Launch Celebration

For the safety of graduates and guests, the following items are prohibited during the Bicentennial Launch Celebration on the Lawn or John Paul Jones Arena (severe-weather site):

  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Animals (except service animals)
  • Artificial noisemakers
  • Bags (except clear bags 12”x6”x12”) 

  • Balls, Frisbees, and similar items
  • Flasks
  • Folding chairs or stools
  • Glass
  • Laser pointers
  • Sticks and poles (including sports equipment)
  • Tents*
  • Unmanned aircraft systems (including drones)
  • Weapons, fireworks, and explosives**

* Only tents (including pop-up tents) arranged by the University are allowed on Central Grounds during the Bicentennial Launch Weekend.
** The Bicentennial Launch Celebration is an “educational activity” at which these items are prohibited for members of the University community, general public, and visitors in accordance with
University Policy and Regulation.

Strollers: Umbrella strollers are encouraged due to the lack of space on the Lawn to accommodate large strollers. At John Paul Jones Arena, only umbrella strollers small enough to fit under the seats are allowed in the seating area.

In addition to the list above, backpacks, large bags, coolers, and balloons are prohibited in John Paul Jones Arena for all Bicentennial Launch Weekend events. The Arena is a smoke-free building (including e-cigarettes).

The University of Virginia reserves the right to prohibit any item deemed hazardous or disruptive to the ceremony or that interferes in the enjoyment of the event by others.

Security Checkpoints

To provide a safer environment for attendees and significantly expedite entry onto the Lawn, UVA is implementing a clear bag policy and utilizing metal detectors for the Bicentennial Launch Celebration on Friday, October 6, 2017. 

These security enhancements mirror those already adopted by many other major colleges and universities — including our peers in the Atlantic Coast Conference — for sporting events and by professional sports leagues such as the National Football League.

Metal Detectors

  • Metal detectors will be used at all entrances to the north four tiers of the Lawn beginning at 8:00 a.m. on the day of the event.  Detectors at the other entrances will go live in the afternoon.
  • Metal detectors will be used for Paterson and Key alleys through which residents are able to enter.

Clear Bag Policy

Beginning at 4 p.m., attendees will only be able to carry the following style and size bag onto the Lawn:

  • A bag that is clear plastic, vinyl, or PVC and does not exceed 12”x6”x12” or
  • A one-gallon clear plastic freezer bag (Ziploc bag or similar).
  • One small clutch bag, approximately the size of a hand, with or without a handle or strap can be taken to the event with one of the clear plastic bags.
  • All other bags will not be permitted.

A list of prohibited bags includes, but is not limited to: purses, backpacks, drawstring bags that are not clear, briefcases, coolers, fanny packs, luggage, computer bags, camera bags, binocular cases, and diaper bags.

  • Free clear bags will be available on the day of the event and will be distributed at event parking lots and at security-screening gates.
  • Attendees are encouraged to return unauthorized items to their vehicles or check them at Newcomb Hall, Commonwealth Room.

Elsewhere at UVA

  • UVA Athletics will implement a clear bag policy and use detectors at Scott Stadium for fans starting with the football game versus Duke on Saturday, October 7, 2017.
  • A clear bag policy and metal detectors will also be in place for the Zac Brown Band concert at John Paul Jones Arena on Saturday, October 7, 2017.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Why is UVA implementing a clear bag policy?

This policy will enhance public safety and make event access more efficient by limiting the size and style of bags carried into the event. This proactive measure enhances safety inside and outside the event and speeds the security screening process.

Q. How does the clear bag policy improve public safety?

Clear bags are easily and quickly searched and greatly reduce faulty bag searches. They also supports the Department of Homeland Security’s “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign.

Q. How does this make it more convenient for guests?

This will enable event security to move guests through check-points much faster. It will allow security to be more efficient and effective in checking bags brought into the event. There will be less time spent standing in lines at the event gates, and guests will be able to be inside the Lawn well before the show starts.

Q. How many bags can each person bring into the event?

One large clear bag – either a one-gallon Ziploc-style bag or a 12” by 6” by 12” clear bag made of clear plastic, PVC, or vinyl – plus a small clutch approximately the size of a hand, with or without a handle or strap.

Q. May guests carry cameras, binoculars, smart phones or tablets separately from what they put in a clear bag?

Yes. These items may be carried into the event as long as they are not in their own bags.

Q. May guests bring blankets?

Yes, guests may bring blankets by tossing them over a shoulder or arm, so they can be easily screened.

Q. What happens if I show up at the gate with a bag that is not permitted?

Guests carrying bags not meeting the criteria will be instructed to either return the bags to their vehicle or check the bags at Newcomb Hall.

Q. Are all purses prohibited?

No. Small clutch purses, with or without a handle or strap, are permitted along with either the 12” by 6” by 12” clear tote bag or the one-gallon freezer bag.

Q. May guests bring diaper bags?

Diapers can be carried in a clear bag. Each member of a family, including children, is allowed to carry an approved clear bag and a clutch purse into the event.

Q. If I have special medical equipment I need to have with me at all times, where do I put it?

An exception can be made for necessary medical items.