Grad Grounds Reception Guidelines

Grad Grounds Reception Guidelines

Celebrate your Graduation by having a reception right here on campus after Commencement!

Grad Grounds is a tradition here at SMC, and you can be a part of history by reserving your very own celebration plot - or form a group and celebrate with fellow grads,

If you are coordinating a reception site for a number of your fellow graduates, please be considerate of their needs and ability to participate in this reception as it is their celebration as well.


Grad Grounds Reception Guidelines

Please read through all these guidelines carefully; they are provided to assist you with planning a successful and memorable post Commencement reception.

The College provides you with the physical reception site and a set of guidelines for the use of said site. 


All applicants must be a graduating undergraduate student in good standing. You must plan your reception for the space you have been allotted by the Office of Meetings, Events, & Conference Services (MECS); you may not negotiate or enact a site change without the express written permission of MECS. If you have the consent of another group to consider a relocation of your reception site (a trading of), you must both make a formal written request through MECS.

Group Size

Each reception site is limited to a designated number of graduates. For example, if a site location has 30 max guests, this means there is space for 2 graduates with 15 guests each (not including the graduate). For group sites, six graduates with a total of 90 guests is the maximum.  See “Site Locations” for more information.

Multiple parties are often assigned to the same reception site. 


All graduates attending Grad Grounds on Saturday, May 25, 2024 at Saint Mary's College of California are held responsible for following all conditions outlined in the signed Facility Use Agreement, Site Policy Acknowledgement Form, Alcohol Responsibility Form and Catering Vendor Agreement.

The following guidelines and procedures must also be followed in addition to those stated in the Facility Use Agreement:

  • Set up for your reception may begin as early as 12:00 p.m. on Friday, May 24, 2024, but not earlier. The College cannot guarantee the security of your reception site and/or any items (i.e., canopies, barbecues, tables, chairs, etc.) left on your site; please plan accordingly.
  • Catering vendors are allowed to set-up at a site location or a designated vendor location, the cost is $50.00 per student group. All catering vendors who want to be on site the day of Commencement must register in advance with the Office of Meetings, Events, and Conference Services. Catering vendors that are not registered will not be allowed on campus.
  • Receptions may begin after the official conclusion of the Commencement Ceremony on Saturday, May 25, 2024, and all receptions must end by 4:00 p.m. the same day. Failure to do so will result in a $150.00 fine for each graduate of the group, which will be applied to the graduate's account. Payment of the student account is required for receipt of transcripts and diploma. 
  • All reception furnishings (i.e., canopies, tables, buffet tables, etc.) must be chosen carefully to fit within the confines of the space allotted to your reception.All reception furnishings must be removed before 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 25, 2024. You will be provided with a clean reception site for your graduation reception, and you are required to return the site to its original state. Failure to do so will result in a $150.00 fine for each graduate of the group, which will be applied to the graduate account(s). Payment of the student account is required for receipt of transcripts and diploma. 
    • The College does not provide reception furnishings (tables, chairs, & canopies), as they will already be in use for Commencement. If any College equipment and/or furnishings are moved from a campus area to a reception site, the group will be charged a minimum fine of $150.00.
    • If you are assigned an area with existing tables, BBQ equipment, chairs and/or other amenities, you are to share and divide them according to the number of groups assigned to that specific reception site. Please be considerate of each other.
    • Only open canopies with a maximum of 10' in length by 10' in width are allowed; no enclosed tents and none large may be utilized. Canopies MAY NOT be spiked into the ground, you must use weights/sandbags to keep them stable! Groups failing to do so will be asked to take the incorrectly secured canopy down immediately. Failure to do so will result in a $150.00 fine for each graduate of the group, which will be applied to the graduate account(s). Payment of the student account is required for receipt of transcripts and diploma.
  • Occupancy for all reception sites must be maintained; do not add additional graduates and their guests to your reception group without prior written clearance from the Meetings, Events, and Conference Services office. Please be aware that the space you are assigned for your reception is largely decided by your reception site request and takes into consideration the number of graduates in your group. The addition of another graduate also implies the addition of their guests and this could result in a fire code violation resulting in a shutdown of your reception.
  • You are solely responsible for the contracting of vendors and/or caterers, reception provisions, site set-up, reception management and clean up of your site. The College does not endorse or recommend any particular catering service and/or rental company.
  • All graduates are responsible for adhering to California state law and College policy concerning the consumption, use and provision of alcohol to guests (and non-guests who stop by) at your graduation reception. No common-source of alcohol is permitted, including but not limited to party balls, beer bongs, kegs, cocktail machines, beer pong tables and ice sluices. Common-source of alcohol is also defined as a quantity of alcohol more than can be responsibly consumed by an individual. As outlined in the Alcohol Responsibility Form Addendum, No hard alcohol is allowed. Only wine, beer and champagne may be served and consumed. NOTE: No beer pong tables and no ice luges are allowed on campus premises during post-graduation receptions, regardless of how they are used. Violation of the terms in the Alcohol Responsibility Form Addendum will result in immediate closure of the reception site and a $250.00 fine per graduate that will be applied to the student’s account. Payment of the student account is required for receipt of transcripts and diploma.

If we can be of further assistance to you in the planning of your post-commencement reception, please contact us at Office hours are 9:00 am to 4:30 pm, Monday through Friday.


Important Dates

Thursday, March 7: Grad Grounds Showcase in the Soda Center from 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Tuesday, March 12: Online Applications for Grad Grounds open at 8:00 a.m.

Thursday, March 21: Online Applications Close at 5:00 p.m. (or sooner if all plots are reserved)

Tuesday, March 26: Receipt Confirmations (Tentative Assignments and links to Required Documents)

Tuesday, March 26th: Receipt Confirmations (Tentative Assignments and links to Required Documents)

Thursday, March 28th: Grad Fair in the Soda Center from 10:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.

Friday, April 12th: DocuSign, Catering Information & Payment Deadline

Friday, April 26th: Grad Grounds Plot Assignments Posted 

Friday, May 24th at 12:00 p.m.: Undergrads can start setting up Grad Grounds plots

Saturday, May 25th after Commencement: Grad Grounds until 4:00 p.m.

Saturday, May 25th: 4:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. Grad Grounds Clean Up