Trumping the numbers the president will bring security, crowds to commencement

Commencement attendees should prepare for security and crowds May 13 as President Donald Trump speaks to what may be the largest graduating body in the past five years.

The registrar’s office posted the current security information on the Liberty website.

Doors at Williams Stadium will open at 6 a.m. according to the Liberty webpage. Everyone must be prepared to go through security and obey all security and event staff.

The webpage also provided a list of prohibited items. Some of the items are listed below.

• Aerosols, including silly string

• Balloons

• Bicycles

• Bottled drinks, including water

• Selfie sticks

Guests must adhere to the Williams Stadium clear bag policy. The webpage warned that security is subject to change so attendees should check the website frequently.

Commencement guests should also expect a crowd. A graphic from the May 2 Champion estimated that there will be about 50,000 guests.

Graduating Senior Alexis Caudle said that she knows students who are worried about safety, especially since commencement is open to the public and the president is speaking.

EXCITEMENT - Alexis Caudle with her graduation cap.

Christy Gwartney, also a graduating senior, said she is worried that her family might not be able to get seats. They have been planning to come to her graduation for a year.

Caudle also noted that commencement has grown since she first attended in 2012. She thought Liberty’s commencements had also become more coordinated and better known nationally for their speakers.

“Not many people can say that the president of the United States spoke at your graduation,” Caudle said.

President Trump definitely brought national attention to Liberty’s commencement. According to the Liberty University News Service he is the first current U.S. president to speak at commencement since President George H. W. Bush spoke in 1990.

The number of graduates has also grown. About 19,000 online and residential students will receive their diplomas on May 13, Assistant Registrar for Operations Jaime Velastegui said in an email. He said there were 12,578 graduates in 2012.

The current largest graduating body in the past five years was in 2016 when, according to Velastegui, 19,063 students graduated.

The graduating class of 2017 may surpass that. (353 Words)

Broadcast Video Script: What may be the largest graduating body in the past five years will pack Williams Stadium for commencement May 13.

Assistant Registrar for Operations Jaime Velastegui said in an email that about 19,000 online and residential students will receive their diplomas.

The class of 2016 was 19,063 students, so the class of 2017 could surpass it.

A graphic from the Liberty Champion estimates that there will also be about 50,000 guests attending commencement.

Crowds will likely be large because President Trump is the keynote speaker. (85 words)

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