Security at Higher Education Graduations

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How More Eyes Can Reduce Risk


As concerns grow surrounding school safety and security, we cannot forget about higher education, especially during commencement ceremonies. Colleges and universities are already accustomed to a more open campus, allowing for unknown visitors, but graduations should have much more security, both in uniform and out of uniform for those protecting the venue. Keep reading to learn tips for top-notch safety procedures for higher education graduation.

Just like large sporting events, colleges and universities are adopting a bag search policy for commencement ceremonies. When meeting with students prior to graduation, explain that all bags, purses and packages are subject to search and all persons are subject to search by metal detection devices. Tell students to pass the word to their guests who will be attending and add signs around the entrance of this policy to minimize confusion.

Your campus security will likely be on duty during graduations and will have their own agendas of patrolling and observing those who attend. Have security arrive prior to everyone else and do a sweep of the entire facility where commencement is being held including the inside and outside of the area. They should be looking for anything out of the ordinary like suspicious packages or personal belongings. They may also use canines for this security check and to secure the perimeter.

Your campus security will likely not be enough to ensure a safe ceremony, so ask for local law enforcement to be in attendance as well and use them for security purposes. Whether it be local police or your campus security, have some work undercover in plain clothes to be a less visible observer of suspicious activity within the hall or stadium. The more eyes you have observing guests and attendees, the easier it will be to spot someone who is up to no good.

Guests are not the only people who should be observed for security purposes, graduates should be too. Tell graduates they are subject to search as well and should leave all personal belongings in their car. Commencement regalia should only be put on after arrival and after graduates have gone through the screening process. Once graduates are inside the building for graduation, do not allow them to leave. If they must leave, have them go back through the security screening. Tell graduates to arrive early with plenty of time to go through the screening process and change into their regalia before lining up to walk.

Both graduates and guests will likely think these measures are too extensive, but explaining the implications if there is an incident will help reassure them that security procedures are taking place for their safety. Campus security presence will not be enough and with a large crowd, plain clothed law enforcement will need to be used to secure the area and to ensure its continuation of safety and security. Bag and persons checks of both guests and graduates is critical for security purposes.

What other resources or procedures do you use for graduations at your higher education institution?

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