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Thread: Pat Downs and Bag Searches at College Graduations

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    Pat Downs and Bag Searches at College Graduations

    I know that this is just a little off topic, but I would love some input from the OCDO community on this subject.

    I'm going to a family member's graduation ceremony next week at VCU, and I'm wondering if they have the authority to force attendees to submit to searches before entering. I'll make it clear that I will be in compliance with the law, and therefor not carrying in VCU facilities, but I would still have a problem with having my person checked when there is no reasonable suspicion of a crime.

    At my brother's graduation from Virginia Tech in 2009, they were subjecting certain individuals to seemingly random "enhanced" inspection. This included military officers in full dress uniforms who were being asked to unbutton and open their coats. Interestingly enough, another brother of mine was actually carrying (this was of course before the new restrictions were in place), and he was not searched.

    So, if they have a similar search procedure in place at VCU, what can/will happen if I refuse to consent to such a search? Do they have the authority to bar me from entering?

    I'm not interested in make any kind of seen here, but I'll be damned if I'm going to let my privacy be invaded when there is no need for it. . . At least I won't be here at Tech next weekend when the SS takes over so that the wife of a certain head of state can grace us with her presence.

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    Accomplished Advocate peter nap's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by VApatriot View Post
    I know that this is just a little off topic, but I would love some input from the OCDO community on this subject.

    I'm going to a family member's graduation ceremony next week at VCU, and I'm wondering if they have the authority to force attendees to submit to searches before entering. I'll make it clear that I will be in compliance with the law, and therefor not carrying in VCU facilities, but I would still have a problem with having my person checked when there is no reasonable suspicion of a crime.

    At my brother's graduation from Virginia Tech in 2009, they were subjecting certain individuals to seemingly random "enhanced" inspection. This included military officers in full dress uniforms who were being asked to unbutton and open their coats. Interestingly enough, another brother of mine was actually carrying (this was of course before the new restrictions were in place), and he was not searched.

    So, if they have a similar search procedure in place at VCU, what can/will happen if I refuse to consent to such a search? Do they have the authority to bar me from entering?

    I'm not interested in make any kind of seen here, but I'll be damned if I'm going to let my privacy be invaded when there is no need for it. . . At least I won't be here at Tech next weekend when the SS takes over so that the wife of a certain head of state can grace us with her presence.
    They probably can do it or at least will do it !!!

    If you don't allow it, they won't let you in, if you go in anyway, you'll get arrested for trespassing.

    We talk a lot about "They can't do that"...well they do and unless you have money to spare, there isn't a hell of a lot that you can do except refuse to go.

    Many years ago before most of this "High Alert" BS started, I took a class on privacy. In those days, my goal was to invade other people's privacy, but it gave me a hard look at how to protect my own.

    The one statement that's always stuck with me is "Maintaining privacy is neither convenient or cheap".

    That is proving itself more every day. I won't fly or go many places that I'll be searched. I have a zero tolerance policy with police and am willing to be arrested rather than submit to an illegal search.

    You have to decide if this graduation is worth bending your moral values. There is no right or wrong answer.
    Last edited by peter nap; 05-05-2012 at 10:47 AM.

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    Our wonderful supreme court has ruled that if the school has had problems before then anything is OK.

    At schools, the 4th amendment is just a thought.

    Now at a graduation ceremony this gets hazy .. are they students anymore at that point? Maybe not.

    Clearly after they get their diplomas, school's over but they have "received" their diplomas already...its just a ceremony to present them.

    My school, after graduation, has the PTA give a party to the graduates .. they bus them to a party. Now, prior to them getting on the bus, they have the police search them. Now, I see an issue with this as they are no longer school children at that point in time, for sure.

    So I would say that the searches are indeed illegal ... the full force of the 4th amendment is there for ex-students just picking up diplomas.

    Now, do you have standing to sue? Maybe not. If not, you would have to talk to a parent of a kid who was searched.

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    Quote Originally Posted by VApatriot View Post

    So, if they have a similar search procedure in place at VCU, what can/will happen if I refuse to consent to such a search? Do they have the authority to bar me from entering?
    .
    They can refuse you entry for any reason ... its not your property, its theirs. I would not consent to such a search myself. But I'm an American.

    So I would just say that if they think they have the authority to search w/o consent you will not resist. Then sue them afterwards....you have to be violated first

    Enjoy your ceremony of search.
    Last edited by davidmcbeth; 05-05-2012 at 11:45 AM.

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    Campaign Veteran skidmark's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by VApatriot View Post
    .... I'm wondering if they have the authority to force attendees to submit to searches before entering. .....
    They certainly believe they do. In order to see if the cards they are holding are better than the ones you think you are holding you are going to have to ante up.

    Will your standing on principles make any real difference in how VCU behaves? Probably not, even if you go in order to get arrested so you can challenge them in court. Will it make any real difference in how your family/friends see you? Probably so, but the initial response is most likely going to be negative.

    If you would like, we can set up a meeting and go get a bite to eat or just chew the fat while your mamily member is graduated. Might be able to talk some other locals into joining us.

    stay safe.
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    Quote Originally Posted by skidmark View Post
    They certainly believe they do. In order to see if the cards they are holding are better than the ones you think you are holding you are going to have to ante up.

    Will your standing on principles make any real difference in how VCU behaves? Probably not, even if you go in order to get arrested so you can challenge them in court. Will it make any real difference in how your family/friends see you? Probably so, but the initial response is most likely going to be negative.

    If you would like, we can set up a meeting and go get a bite to eat or just chew the fat while your mamily member is graduated. Might be able to talk some other locals into joining us.

    stay safe.
    Thanks for the responses, guys. I generally felt that this is the answer that I would get, but I still wanted to bring up this topic for some discussion. I'm also interested in any court cases that deal with the 4th Amendment implication of such searches. Are there any?

    Thanks for the invite, Skid, but things wouldn't turnout well for me if I ducked out on this graduation ceremony. I hate to bend under the force of stupid and possibly unconstitutional regulations, but at least it's only for an hour or two. Family on the overhand tends to stick around for a while and doesn't always let you forget it when you miss important life moments.

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    VCU graduations are held at the Richmond Coliseum (city owned). VCU would never pay for the staff necessary to conduct such searches. It is always a standing room only crowd. To date they have never done pat downs that in the past.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kenny View Post
    VCU graduations are held at the Richmond Coliseum (city owned). VCU would never pay for the staff necessary to conduct such searches. It is always a standing room only crowd. To date they have never done pat downs that in the past.
    And yet, many of the schools/departments at VCU hold their graduation ceremonies at locations other than The Colosium. http://www.commencement.vcu.edu/ceremonies.html It pays to know all the information available, especially when encouraging a course of action for another to take.

    Many of the graduation ceremonies are taking place on private property - neither VCU venues nor ones owned by localities such as the City of Richmond. One of those venues, I learned several years ago at the cost of non-refundable admission for a party of five, specifically prohibits firearms. http://www.lewisginter.org/plan/garden_etiquette.php

    stay safe.
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    Assuming the OP had received an invitation they should have know that already. It has been that way for many years. The bulk graduation in the am and the individual schools in the afternoon and evening.

    The is not one building large enough in Richmond to hold and host an entire graduation ceremony. After all it is primarily a Liberal Arts college.

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    Thanks for the additional information. I'm very glad to hear about the graduation often being held at the Coliseum.

    Since it's all in the family, I didn't get a formal invitation, but I know that there is both the university graduation (I now assume this is the one at the Coliseum) and the College of Nursing graduation. I'm now waiting on some confirmation on the details.

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    Regular Member vt357's Avatar
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    Two words - deep concealment.

    I went to Tech's graduation the last 2 years and pocket carried. Nobody took a second glance at me. My wife's purse was searched though.

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    Accomplished Advocate peter nap's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vt357 View Post
    Two words - deep concealment.

    I went to Tech's graduation the last 2 years and pocket carried. Nobody took a second glance at me. My wife's purse was searched though.
    While that's probably the right idea vt...it's the wrong place to post it. That would be illegal.

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    Quote Originally Posted by peter nap View Post
    While that's probably the right idea vt...it's the wrong place to post it. That would be illegal.
    Hardly illegal.....one brainwash treatment was successful ... lol .... no, really, nothing illegal about it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by VApatriot View Post
    . I'm also interested in any court cases that deal with the 4th Amendment implication of such searches. Are there any?
    SCOTUS cases are there ... simple google search will find them. Like I said I have read them in the recent past ... if there has been a history of the school having issues then they can search. So, has your school had incidents during graduation ceremonies in the past? That's the question to ask your school administrators.

    I would never submit to a search in such circumstances...I never heard of a shooting at a college graduation ceremony.

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    Regular Member paramedic70002's Avatar
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    So if VCU "leases" the Coliseum, can they invoke a gun ban? I think they can.

    Quote Originally Posted by peter nap View Post
    That is proving itself more every day. I won't fly or go many places that I'll be searched. I have a zero tolerance policy with police and am willing to be arrested rather than submit to an illegal search.
    At which point you are subject to a legal search. Just sayin'.

    BTW it's not illegal if you consent.
    Last edited by paramedic70002; 05-07-2012 at 12:23 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by peter nap View Post
    While that's probably the right idea vt...it's the wrong place to post it. That would be illegal.
    VT did nothing illegal....

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    Quote Originally Posted by paramedic70002 View Post
    So if VCU "leases" the Coliseum, can they invoke a gun ban? I think they can.



    At which point you are subject to a legal search. Just sayin'.

    The only time I'm going to get searched is if I want to go somewhere that I have to go through it... and that's not often. I can do without most of the time.
    Case in point...the Surry Ferry, I consent or I can't record them doing it and video Security on both sides. I do put a GoPro camera on a magnet on the underside of the trunk so when they open it I get their smiling face first thing.

    BTW it's not illegal if you consent.

    See the above answer! The best way to tell if I'm up to something suspicious, is if I cooperate. That's a dead giveaway.

    ...

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    Quote Originally Posted by VApatriot View Post
    Thanks for the additional information. I'm very glad to hear about the graduation often being held at the Coliseum.

    Since it's all in the family, I didn't get a formal invitation, but I know that there is both the university graduation (I now assume this is the one at the Coliseum) and the College of Nursing graduation. I'm now waiting on some confirmation on the details.
    Per http://www.commencement.vcu.edu/ceremonies.html the School of Nursing ceremony will be at the SEigel Center - Va Administrative Code says no carry, not even in the parking decks.

    stay safe. (although I'm buggered to figure out how you can under these circumstances)
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    Quote Originally Posted by skidmark View Post
    Per http://www.commencement.vcu.edu/ceremonies.html the School of Nursing ceremony will be at the SEigel Center - Va Administrative Code says no carry, not even in the parking decks.

    stay safe. (although I'm buggered to figure out how you can under these circumstances)
    Now I feel really stupid for not think to just google the commencement information myself in the first place.

    I don't want to argue the point too much, but it looks to me that you can at least have your gun in the trunk of your car, because the regulation states "in [your] possession."

    8VAC90-10-50. The right to academic freedom and to equal educational and occupational access.

    The university is committed to providing an environment conducive to academic freedom, free inquiry, and equal access to educational and occupational opportunities. The principle of academic freedom requires all persons to respect another's dignity, to acknowledge another's right to express differing opinions, to cultivate and to cherish intellectual honesty, and to promote freedom of inquiry and expression. It is therefore the policy of the university that no act of any member of the university community shall serve to restrain or inhibit access to opportunities or the exercise of these freedoms. To that end, no person, either singly or in concert with others, shall willfully:
    . . .
    4. Have in his possession any firearm, other weapon, or explosive, regardless of whether a license to possess the same has been issued, without the written authorization of the president of the university. This restriction does not apply to persons whose duties lawfully require the possession of firearms or other weapons.
    This whole thing is an absolute disgrace. They pretend to talk about freedom, equality, and free expression. . . but only for people who agree with them.
    Last edited by VApatriot; 05-07-2012 at 09:08 AM.

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    Regular Member vt357's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peter nap View Post
    While that's probably the right idea vt...it's the wrong place to post it. That would be illegal.
    True enough. I did it before they passed the new regulations, it was just an unenforceable policy then.

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    Accomplished Advocate peter nap's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vt357 View Post
    True enough. I did it before they passed the new regulations, it was just an unenforceable policy then.
    I understand
    I know someone that used to have to go in the court house often. He would spit on his briefcase latches before he went in just for personal gratification

    He took up farming later in life.

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    carry an empty gun case with ....

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