Many details concerning Michelle Obama and Mark Warner’s appearance at this year’s commencement ceremony have not been determined, so the university is encouraging families to check the webpage consistently for updates.
“We don’t have the specific instructions from the White House and the Secret Service,” said Mark Owczarski, university spokesman. “They have yet to send their advanced
team to provide counsel and advice.”
However, the university does have a few assumptions as to what they may be.
According to Owczarski, there will probably be wand metal detectors for guests coming in, as well as restrictions in parking areas and road access. What those restrictions will be, or how those will look like, have yet to be determined.
Due to this, families are encouraged to travel the night before to avoid any potential traffic with the arrival of the first lady and Senator Warner.
“We’re working with the White House, state police and local enforcement to figure out what specifically it’s going to look like and what specific aspects and elements will be affected, so that we can convey that to graduating seniors, family, and so on,” Owczarski said.
To keep families informed, the commencement website, which can be found on the VT home webpage, provides updates and tips for the ceremony. For example, families are encouraged to arrive early and leave large packages, such as gifts, behind to save space for more seating.
Because of the popularity of the two commencement speakers, more people are expected to attend the ceremony, which creates a concern for seating.
Like previous ceremonies, it will be open to the general public and there is usually a turn out of 20,000 people. This year, however, that number is expected to rise. Seating shouldn’t be an issue, though, as Lane Stadium seats more than 60,000 people.
“I don’t think it’s the case of people being turned away because it’s a sell out,” Owczarski said. “It’ll be more crowded we believe, but we don’t really have a way of knowing that until the day of.”
There is also the possibility of there being a different entrance for families and the general public. Those details have not been set yet, but the idea would be to keep groups together.
Brittany Gilligan, a senior biology major, is not concerned about any special problems with seating due to the special speakers.
“Virginia Tech is a large university anyways, so I figured there would be problems with seating already,” Gilligan said.
Lane Stadium will be open four hours in advance, so the public can find seating.