You are here: American University Events Commencement Ceremony Day-Of Information for Guests

Day-of Instructions for Guests

This information applies to families and commencement guests. Graduating students should follow the day-of instructions for graduates.

Important Updates:

  • All graduates and guests must have a digital copy of vaccination record or vaccine card, or negative PCR Test results with them when attending.
  • Guests must have their tickets and proof of vaccination or negative PCR test results ready to show during line-up outside Bender Arena.
  • Doors will open one hour prior to the start of the ceremony. No entry will be permitted during the processional beginning approximately 10 minutes prior to the start of the ceremony. Guests should arrive early to ensure entry to the Bender Arena to view the processional.
  • There will be no re-entry to Bender Arena permitted for guests.
  • Following updated COVID-19 protocols, all commencement participants, including children 3 and older, are required to wear masks. KN95, N95, or KF94 are strongly encouraged.
  • We ask that graduates and all guests practice good hygiene and infection control precautions such as frequent and thorough hand washing and hand sanitization and stay home if not feeling well.

Know Before You Go:

  • Review Campus Map
  • Tickets are required for entry to the Spring Commencement ceremony. Graduates can access up to six electronic tickets for their guests. Tickets can be printed or presented on the phone for scanning at the entrance to Bender Arena. Tickets may not be sold or duplicated. Each ticket has a unique QR code and can only be used once.
  • All guests, age five and older, must be fully vaccinated as defined by the CDC prior to attending the ceremonies.
  • Those guests unvaccinated because of medical or religious reasons will have proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours of the ceremony (Wednesday, May 4 or later if attending Saturday, May 7 ceremony; Thursday, May 5 or later if attending Sunday, May 8 ceremony. All guests should plan to have a digital copy of the vaccination record or vaccine card or negative PCR Test results with them when attending.
  • Following updated COVID-19 protocols, all commencement participants,including children 3 and older, are required to wear masks. KN95, N95 or KF94 are strongly encouraged
  • We discourage unvaccinated guests with medical conditions from attending commencement and encourage them to view the ceremony online on the commencement website.
  • All graduates and guests must have a digital copy of vaccination record or vaccine card, or negative PCR Test results with them when attending. 
  • Guests must have their tickets,  proof of vaccination or negative PCR test results ready to show during line-up outside Bender Arena.
  • We ask all guests practice good hygiene and infection control precautions such as frequent and thorough hand washing and hand sanitization and stay home if not feeling well.
  • Sign up for AU Alerts to stay informed in the case of any emergency during your visit to campus. To sign up, text AUALERTS to 226787. Opt out from receiving alerts by texting STOP to 226787.
  • Because of traffic congestion and limited parking, please consider alternative ways to get to campus including the AU Shuttle, Metrorail & Metrobus, taxi, or ride-sharing service. If you plan to drive to campus, please refer to the Parking Instructions site for information regarding parking passes and disability parking accommodations. 
  • AU is committed to the promotion of a healthy and safe learning, living, and working environment and is proud to be tobacco- and smoke-free. This includes electronic cigarettes.
  • Use the commencement hashtag #2021AUgrad for the Fall 2021 ceremony and #2022AUgrad for the Spring 2022 ceremonies on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Your posts will appear on the screens inside Bender Arena before the ceremony.

The Ceremony

  • Children must be accompanied by an adult at all times.
  • Doors will open one hour prior to the start of the ceremony. No entry will be permitted during the processional beginning approximately 10 minutes prior to the start of the ceremony. Guests should arrive early to ensure entry to the Bender Arena to view the processional.
  • There will be no re-entry to Bender Arena permitted for guests.
  • A seating section, located next to the ground-level entrance to Bender Arena, will be available for senior citizens and persons with physical disabilities and their families. Reservations are not required. Seating will be on a first-come, first-served basis. Sign language interpreters and closed captioning will be provided. See additional information on disability support services.
  • The student processional will begin approximately 10 minutes prior to the start of the ceremony. Entry to the Arena will not be permitted during the processional. Doors will reopen following the National Anthem and invocation.
  • All bags are subject to search, and large signs, banners, and other objects that impede visibility are not permitted.
  • Only graduating students are permitted in the line-up assembly areas.
  • To create a more sustainable commencement, ushers will only distribute one printed program per family. Graduates will have a program placed at their seat. Graduates may request additional programs following the ceremony by emailing commencement@american.edu.
  • The Spring Commencement ceremonies are expected to run between two to two and a half hours.
  • Each graduate’s name will be announced during the ceremony. The university requests that guests respectfully honor this momentous occasion in a way that enables family and friends to hear each graduate’s name as it is announced. Please refrain from the use of air horns or any other type of noisemaker during the ceremony.
  • No alcoholic beverages are permitted at the commencement ceremonies. This policy will be strictly enforced.
  • Any graduate or guest exhibiting disruptive behavior during line-up or the ceremony, as determined by university commencement staff or AU Police, is subject to removal.
  • To ensure the comfort of our guests and in accordance with local fire safety laws, aisles must be kept clear at all times. Guests are asked to cooperate with ushers and public safety officers and to keep designated areas clear.
  • The ceremonies will be live-streamed at american.edu/commencement. The live-stream will begin approximately 45 minutes prior to the start of each ceremony. 

After the Ceremony

  • To prevent confusion, please determine in advance where you will meet your party immediately following the ceremony.
  • After members of the faculty have left the arena, ushers will direct graduates from the arena. Guests should remain seated. If the weather is bad, there will be no graduate recessional.
  • You can view the archived video online at american.edu/commencement. A link will be available on the website after the ceremony.

Questions

Please review information on this page. For further questions, call 202-885-2143 or email commencement@american.edu

American University is proud to be tobacco and smoke free

Tobacco-Free Campus

American University is committed to the promotion of a healthy and safe learning, living, and working environment. We are proud to be a tobacco- and smoke-free campus. 

Learn More