UMass Dartmouth makes changes to graduation ceremony - News, Weather and Classifieds for Southern New England

UMass Dartmouth makes changes to graduation ceremony

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DARTMOUTH, Mass. -

Everyone expected some changes to the graduation ceremony at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth this year because it has a connection to suspected Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokar Tsarnaev.

Students and parents said they understand most of the changes, but they're not happy with one that limits who can attend the live ceremony.

"I've been here five years. So, it's nice to finally graduate," senior Kyle Pacheco said.

For Pacheco this is not just his day, but his family's day.

"You think about all of the time, effort and money invested into a degree. For my family that's a big day," he said. "I'm actually the first person to actually graduate from college."

But he's not happy with a new graduation rule. Students only get two tickets for seating at the Vietnam Veterans Peace Memorial Amphitheater. In past years, it was first come, first served.

The University of Rhode Island is enacting the same rule. It's all part of increased security measures as a reaction to the Boston Marathon bombings.

Surviving bombing suspect Dzhokar Tsarnaev was a student at U Mass Dartmouth.

"There really isn't a venue that we have that can accommodate 11,000 people," UMass Dartmouth spokesman John Hoey said. "We've come to the conclusion that the best option is that every graduate can have a couple people in the venue."

Both universities will have overflow sections where loved ones can watch the ceremonies on big screens.

Other security measures include a higher police presence, bomb sniffing dogs, and a ban on backpacks and wrapped gifts.

"There's nothing you can do about it," Pacheco said. "It is, what it is, but I'm just not happy the way it's playing out right now."

Despite the inconvenience Pacheco still can't wait for a few simple words that officially graduate the class of 2013.

"It's going to be a good feeling to finally walk across that stage on Sunday and have a diploma," he said.

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