You are here: American University Commencement 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:

  • Guests must have their tickets 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.
  • To support our community and your personal health, you are strongly recommended to stay home when you are sick, get tested if you exhibit COVID symptoms or have been exposed to a confirmed case, and wash your hands often.

Know Before You Go:

  • Review Campus Map and Arena Floorplans
  • Tickets are required for entry to the 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.
  • We encourage guests without a ticket to view the ceremony online via our live-stream on the commencement website.
  • Guests should have their tickets 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 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 #2023AUgrad for the Fall 2023 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 ceremonies will be live-streamed at american.edu/commencement. The live-stream will begin approximately 45 minutes prior to the start of each ceremony. 
  • 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 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.

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 202-885-2159 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. 

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