DARTMOUTH, Mass. (AP) — The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, where one of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects was a student, is stepping up security and limiting the number of guests per student at this weekend's commencement ceremonies.
The additional measures are no different from security plans in place for other major events on campus, including concerts, university spokesman John Hoey said.
"We want people to know we have all the resources in place to create a safe environment," he told The Standard-Times (http://bit.ly/10DYgsW ) of New Bedford.
In addition to a beefed up police presence, backpacks, wrapped presents, laptops and some other items are banned from the graduate student ceremony scheduled for Saturday and the undergraduate ceremony scheduled for Sunday.
But it's the new plan that limits students at the undergraduate ceremony to two ticketed guests apiece that's rankling some.
The policy, announced last week in an email from Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs David Milstone, angered students who said some relatives had already booked flights to graduation and were left scrambling to change their plans. Nursing major Heather Medeiros said her grandmother canceled plans to travel from Maryland.
Some students said the policy is unfair for students who have stepparents or siblings.
"It's hard because some of us have stepparents that have done just as much as real parents," Nicole Calvino said.
Hoey said it's a matter of fairness that some other schools employ. He said 11,000 people are expected on campus and the amphitheater where the ceremony is planned holds 4,500. There is an overflow area where people can watch a live video feed.
Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, now in a federal prison hospital, was a student at UMass Dartmouth. Two other former students were charged with conspiring to obstruct justice by taking a backpack with fireworks and a laptop from Tsarnaev's dorm room, while a third was charged with lying to investigators about visiting Tsarnaev's dorm room three days after the bombings.
Information from: The (New Bedford, Mass.) Standard-Times, http://www.southcoasttoday.com