VCU announces new tattoo requirement for current and prospective students

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Virginia Commonwealth University announced today that, effective immediately, tattoos will be required for admission, making it the first university in the nation to implement such a requirement. University officials also announced that tattoos will be a graduation requirement for all current students.

The university cited its strategic plan, Quest for Distinction, as the impetus behind the new requirement. “Creative expression is an important part of Theme II of our strategic plan,” said Lorna Dwyer, vice president of questiness at VCU. “We pride ourselves on the creativity and artistic nature of our student body – and I mean literally our students’ bodies. The new tattoo requirement is a reflection of our students’ commitment to individuality, to openness, to never being afraid to express themselves or hide who they are.”

Devon Green, director of admissions standards, said he was not worried the new requirement would put too much additional responsibility on students.

“Eighty-four percent of our students already have tattoos, and a recent survey found that another 11 percent are considering getting one,” he said. “This is Richmond. There are more tattoo parlors than gas stations. Everyone has a tattoo. I’ve seen dogs with tattoos.”

When evaluating prospective students going forward, admissions officers will give priority consideration to students who have tattoos related to their academic field of interest, Green explained.

Everyone has a tattoo. I’ve seen dogs with tattoos.

“And if a prospective student has a VCU tattoo, that will earn even more points in our book,” he said. “We’re recruiting a certain kind of student. We want students who are creative, who are passionate and who are committed to their passions. So committed that they’ll stamp them in permanent ink on their bodies.”

Reactions to the new requirements were mixed. Many students appeared unfazed, while others were indignant.

“What if I want to express who I am by not having a tattoo? Isn’t that just as creative?” Jacob Hobbs, a junior majoring in psychology asked.

“It’s a no-win situation,” said Alicia Kent, a senior nursing major. “Either I don’t graduate or I get a tattoo. No matter what, my parents are going to kill me.”

Green said the new requirement has been a long time in the making.

“Many people don’t know this, but when we dropped the SAT requirement in 2015, it followed months and months of lobbying from faculty and student groups, including one that launched a ‘Tats not SATs’ campaign.”

Virginia Commonwealth University announced today that, effective immediately, tattoos will be required for admission.

The campaign’s proponents argued that tattoos would give a much clearer picture of individual students than standardized test scores.

“Their message really hit home with the administration,” said Dwyer. “And it eventually led us to make this bold step. With the No. 2 graduate fine arts program in the country, our urban campus and the innovative thinkers at all the schools and departments that make up VCU, I really feel like this is going to help solidify the school’s unique personality and set us apart from other universities.”

Reminder: We know that VCU News readers are sharp as tacks, but on the off chance that you missed your morning coffee and are feeling a little fuzzy, please make note of today’s date when considering the above story. If you're a prospective student interested in joining VCU's vibrant community, visit If you're a graduating senior, tattooed or not, visit for details about commencement.