Things to know if you go to Sunday’s commencement ceremonies at KU

photo by: Mike Yoder/Journal-World

The University of Kansas commencement ceremony — complete with hundreds of graduates walking down Campanile Hill to the KU football stadium — is pictured on Sunday May 14, 2023.

You don’t necessarily need an advanced degree to attend this year’s commencement ceremonies at the University of Kansas, but Sunday’s event may be more complicated than normal due to KU’s nearly $500 million stadium construction project.

So, with that in mind, here are some things to know if you go to KU’s 2024 commencement ceremony.

When: 10:30 a.m. on Sunday. Gates to the stadium will open at 9 a.m.

Where: The ceremony indeed will happen at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium, 1101 Mississippi St., despite the fact that half the stadium has been demolished as part of the renovation project. KU officials have committed to clear the field of construction materials so that graduates can sit on the field and receive their diplomas from there. But, there still will be a lot of construction zones at the stadium that will be inaccessible to the public. Know that the west side of the stadium has been demolished and is being rebuilt, so approaching from a direction other than the west probably is best.

photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World

Graduates on Sunday will still be confronted with many signs of construction at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium, pictured on May 10, 2024.

Parking: KU has lifted most parking restrictions on campus for the entire graduation weekend. That means that lots that normally require a certain permit will not require one on Sunday. Parking garages that normally charge a fee for parking will be free. Restrictions on handicapped-marked spaces will still apply. Lots are scattered throughout campus, and there are literally several thousand parking spots on campus. While they are not particularly close to the stadium, which is on the north end of the campus, there are large numbers of parking spaces on the southern end of KU’s campus, near Allen Fieldhouse, the KU law school and the engineering school. One place you should not plan on parking is Memorial Drive, which is just up the hill from the football stadium. That is a staging area for students. It will be closed to all vehicular traffic from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Sunday.

Catch a shuttle: Once you find a parking space on campus, you can flag down a KU transit bus and ride it for free to the stadium. The shuttle service will run from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Sunday.

photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World

Construction workers on May 10, 2024 walk among the rows of white chairs set up at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium. The stadium, half of which has been demolished for a remodeling project, will be home to KU Commencement ceremonies on Sunday.

The Walk: The greatest tradition of KU Commencement is the procession of graduates through the Campanile and the walk down the hill to the football stadium. If you want to line the processional path and see a particular graduate, you need to plan ahead. There are two lines — an east line and a west line — that go down the hill. Here’s how to know which line your graduate will be in. The east line will include graduates from the following schools: law; medicine; engineering; business; journalism; health professions; nursing; music; professional studies. The west line will include graduates from pharmacy; education and human sciences; architecture and design; social welfare; and liberal arts and sciences.

Seating: All seating will be on the east side of the stadium, given that the west side has been demolished. That may create a more cramped seating environment than normal. However, KU is not requiring tickets for entry. The university, though, is asking graduates to limit stadium attendees to six people, although KU couches that as a recommendation rather than a strict requirement. Accessible seating will be available in sections 22, 24 and 26.

photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World

Signs of congratulations hang off of steel construction beams at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium on May 10, 2024, just two days before KU’s Commencement ceremony.

Party tips: Some of the things you might want to bring to a party technically aren’t allowed on the KU campus for graduation weekend. KU states that tailgating in KU parking lots or elsewhere on KU campus is not allowed. KU also states that all alcohol is “strictly prohibited” on campus. Be particularly aware of what you bring into the stadium, as the event normally does have screeners at the entry gates. Prohibited items in the stadium include signs that are attached to a stick or pole; strollers; horns, whistles or other noisemakers; glass bottles, metal cans and coolers. If you are carrying a bag, it should either be a small clutch purse that is no larger than 5.5 inches by 8.5 inches, or a clear bag no larger than 12 inches by 6 inches by 6 inches.

photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World

A KU flag flies from the boom of a construction crane at the University of Kansas’ football stadium, which is under renovation, on May 10, 2024.


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