FAQs: What to expect for Commencement 2023

Last updated: May 16, 2023

We are looking forward to welcoming Bates families and friends to campus in May to celebrate the Class of 2023. We will update the website as more details are confirmed.

If you have any questions, email Jenny Graves at jgraves2@bates.edu.

What, where, when

When is Bates Commencement 2023?

The 157th Commencement of Bates College will take place on Sunday, May 28, 2023, beginning at 10 a.m. and ending shortly after noon on the Coram Library Terrace on the Historic Quad.

Are tickets required? Is there a limit on how many guests graduating seniors may invite to the Commencement ceremony?

Tickets are not required, and there is no limit on the number of guests graduating seniors may invite to Commencement.

Where do families and guests sit? What time should they arrive?

Families and friends may sit in any areas not marked as reserved. Please ask an usher if you are unsure. Family members can arrive as early as 7 a.m. to begin selecting seats.

If you wish to hold seats with jackets, etc., a person from your party must remain with your held seats. Unattended seats are not considered held, even if you leave items on the chairs.

We ask that all guests arrive and take their seats by 9:15 a.m. to view the Commencement procession.

Where do graduating seniors sit during the ceremony?

Seniors are seated in front of the stage in reserved seating alphabetically according to their last name. Seniors with the last name A-K will sit on the right side, and seniors with the last name L-Z will sit on the left as you are facing the stage.

Will Commencement Weekend be accessible for people with disabilities?

Yes, Bates strives to make Commencement accessible. There is accessible parking behind the Bonney Science Center, and there is a small accessible drop-off zone on Campus Avenue next to Carnegie Hall.

At Baccalaureate and at Commencement, there will be accessible seating on the Historic Quad. Families who need this seating should look for chairs with blue covers. On Sunday, staff ushers can also help you find accessible seating.

Will there be a professional photographer taking pictures during the ceremony?

Professional photographers from GradImages will photograph each senior as they receive their diploma and while leaving the stags. Approximately two weeks after Commencement, notification with details on how to access their proofs will be sent directly to each graduate who has provided the college with their post-Bates email address.

When do graduating seniors need to move out of their dorms?

Graduating seniors should plan to move out of their dorms by 5 p.m. on Sunday, May 28. Please contact the Bates Housing Office at housing@bates.edu for any questions or concerns regarding the move-out process.

If graduates have a sibling on campus can they stay through Commencement?

Siblings of graduating seniors who wish to remain in their campus housing through Commencement should reach out to housing@bates.edu to request approval. All siblings should note that attendance at senior week events is limited to seniors.

Will families be allowed in campus buildings during Commencement weekend?

Families will be allowed to enter the following buildings in order to access bathroom facilities:

  • Clifton Daggett Gray Athletic Building
  • Commons
  • Dana
  • Gomes Chapel
  • Hathorn
  • Ladd Library
  • Merrill Gym

Families will be able to access specific student residences as permitted by the Office of Residence Life during specific hours of student move-out.

What dining options will be available for students and their families?

Friday May 26 

  • 8-10am: Breakfast (Commons, students with a Bates ID only)
  • 12–2pm: Lunch (Commons, students with a Bates ID only)
  • 4:30–8pm: Dinner (Commons, students with a Bates ID only)

Saturday May 27

  • 12:30–2pm: Lunch (Commons, open to seniors with a Bates ID and their families. Families use one of their senior’s guest passes or pay with a credit card. The cost for guests is $12 per person.)
  • 5:30–7:30pm: Dinner (Commons, open to seniors with a Bates ID and their families. Families use one of their senior’s guest passes or pay with a credit card. The dinner cost for guests is $14 per person.)
  • 12:30-1:30am: Senior Breakfast (Commons, students with a Bates ID only)

Sunday May 28

  • 7–8:30am: Breakfast (Commons, students with a Bates ID only)
  • 7-8:30am: Coffee service for families (Library Arcade)
  • Noon–2pm: Traditional Commencement Lunch (in front of Commons and under the Bardwell field tent, open to seniors and their families)

Please note that the Den will be closed due to the ongoing renovation of Chase Hall. 

Will there be water available on campus?

Water will be available during all events. Look for the canoes under the garnet feather flags along Alumni Walk, on the Historic Quad, and in other high-visit areas.

What will the weather be like? How should I dress?

May weather in Maine is quite variable. You should plan to bring clothing that is appropriate for rain and cool temperatures, as well as for warm weather. Please remember the ceremony is outside, so we recommend wearing shoes suitable for walking on wet grass.

What happens in the case of inclement weather?

Commencement is outside — rain or shine — but, in the case of thunder or lightning, the ceremony will be paused. Guests will be directed to the Gray Cage and Alumni Gym, students to Commons and Faculty to the Perry Atrium until the ceremony can be resumed.

Where can I purchase Commencement gifts?

The Bates College Bookstore sells Bates Commencement items.

Can I fly a drone over the event?

No. Unmanned Aerial Systems, i.e., drones, are prohibited at all times.

Can I bring my pet to campus?

Pets are prohibited inside all campus buildings and at all dining events. Service animals are welcome.

The Commencement livestream

How can I watch the livestream?

The livestream will be public so friends and family members will be able to watch.

The two locations will afford the same viewer experience. With a four-camera setup, the livestream will show everything that takes place!

Will I be able to view the video afterward?

Yes. After the livestream concludes, the video will be available on demand on Facebook, the Bates YouTube channel, and bates.edu/commencement/live.

What time will the livestream begin?

The livestream will begin at approximately 9:00 a.m. with the procession starting at 9:30 a.m. and the Commencement ceremony starting at 10:00 a.m.

How can families and loved ones participate in the Commencement livestream?

Our goal is to use all elements of social media to help a wide range of families and loved ones join this event in the virtual space. The event will be available on the Bates College Facebook page, allowing audience members to share in real-time their congratulations and shout-outs.

Leading up to Commencement, family members and loved ones can contribute a sentiment to the seniors, and it will appear on the #Bates2023 aggregation page within the hour. 

Will the ceremony livestream be accessible to viewers with disabilities? 

As with all Bates programming, we are committed to providing an accessible and inclusive commencement experience for students and their loved ones. While access considerations have been an important part of the planning process, we know that we may not be able to anticipate every potential barrier or need ahead.

If you anticipate barriers or would like to request an accommodation related to any of the planned programs, activities, or materials, please reach out to Brenda Pelletier, Associate Director of Conferences and Campus Events at bpelleti@bates.edu or 207-786-6400.

Will I experience connectivity issues, as I do with video conferencing?

Bates has successfully streamed past Commencements through the Facebook platform and it has proven reliable and accessible. There still could be hiccups based on internet speed and signal strength.

Visitor Policy 

What are the public health guidelines for participants and guests at Commencement 2023?

Bates is a mask-optional campus. If visitors have concerns about their own health risk factors related to attending mask-optional college events, they should seek guidance from their primary care physician.

Members of our community may choose to wear a mask at any time for any reason, including and not limited to their own level of comfort, personal medical status, family medical status, or personal risk. We encourage you to be courteous and respectful with regard to the needs and choices of others about masking. Someone you interact with on campus may request that you wear a face mask when indoors with them, and we hope that you will honor this request.