Region’s Colleges and Universities Heighten Commencement Security

UMass Dartmouth, where one of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects was a student, is stepping up security and limiting the number of people who can attend commencement ceremonies. Other colleges and universities in the region are also taking commencement security precautions in the wake of the Boston bombings.

UMass Dartmouth plans to have a heightened police presence, and will ban backpacks, wrapped presents, laptops and other items at the undergraduate ceremony this weekend. At UMass Amherst, those items won’t be banned, but extra security procedures will be in place for an expected crowd of 20,000 on Friday. University spokesman Ed Blaguzewski says campus security has conducted random bag searches at past commencements, and will carry those out this year, but with a different focus.

“We may have been looking for evidence or suspicion, say, of champagne bottles in the past, while we’ll continue to do that, we’ll be keeping an eye out for things that may be suspicious looking in regard to improvised explosive devices, etc.”

Blaguzewski says university public safety personnel will be assisted by state and local police. And the school has added video surveillance units. A spokesman for Western New England University says some changes have been made to security procedures this year, but they will not be noticeable to graduates or guests. And a UConn spokesperson says the school’s campus police always take recent events like the Boston bombings into consideration when planning event security, but declined to specify what security measures will be in place.