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The University announced increased safety measures on May 8 for this year's Commencement ceremony amidst the ongoing Gaza Solidarity Encampment. 

Credit: Jesse Zhang

Penn is planning added security protocols for this year’s Commencement ceremony and has removed details about the student procession as it responds to the ongoing Gaza Solidarity Encampment.

In a message to "Parents, Families, and Friends" sent at 1:22 p.m. Wednesday and obtained by The Daily Pennsylvanian, the Office of the University Secretary outlined several measures that it will take to ensure “the safety of all in attendance” at Commencement, which will take place on May 20 at Franklin Field. These measures include airport-style security, a no-bag policy, and PennCard checks for all graduates to enter the field. 

“Guests may not bring artificial noisemakers (including airhorns or bullhorns), signs, posters, flags, or golf umbrellas (small collapsible umbrellas only),” the statement reads. 

A University spokesperson declined a request for comment.

Last year, Penn implemented airport-style security due to the attendance of President Joe Biden. This year, the University will also maintain a "high level of security" at all Franklin Field gates and on the field inside the stadium.

“The circumstances on Penn’s campus are evolving, and as such, the security procedures for the ceremony may change as conditions warrant," the message added.

Information about a processional of graduates, which normally travels from High Rise Field to Franklin Field, has also been updated on the Commencement site to remove specific information about the path of the procession, according to website archives. The procession would normally pass College Green, where the encampment just expanded as it enters its third week. It has been delayed by 30 minutes to begin at 9 a.m.

On Tuesday, Penn Alumni Relations notified campus groups about changes for Alumni Weekend, including the relocation of the Penn Fair to Houston Hall. The Penn Fair, where student groups and departments table for alumni visiting campus, is typically held on Locust Walk outside Van Pelt Library.

As a national wave of pro-Palestinian demonstrations sweeps the country, multiple commencement ceremonies have been impacted. Columbia University canceled its main ceremony after the police swept an academic building and encampment occupied by protesters. The University of Southern California has also significantly updated its graduation ceremony plans after prohibiting its valedictorian from delivering remarks.

Several buildings around Penn’s campus — including Van Pelt-Dietrich Library and Penn Hillel — increased security as the Gaza Solidarity Encampment expanded on College Green Thursday evening, in a sign that Penn Police and Philadelphia Police Department were escalating their presence as Alumni Weekend nears. 

Physician, researcher, and best-selling author Siddhartha Mukherjee will deliver the commencement speech for the Class of 2024. Five other individuals will receive honorary degrees at commencement alongside Mukherjee: Ingrid Daubechies, Karl Deisseroth, Kenny Gamble, Maya Lin, and Leon Huff.