Student organizations are expected to follow Cornell policies and procedures when planning and coordinating events on campus. Here are a few policies and procedures to consider.


Registering Events

Cornell University's Event Registration Form is a tool used to help event planners connect with university officials in order to make their event planning experience efficient and painless. The communication between the event planner and university official will help the event planner better understand university policies and procedures, while allowing the university official the opportunity to learn more about the event and sponsoring organization(s). Though the process may seem tedious at times, it is important to maintain an open line of communications, and be prompt and courteous.

To determine whether or not you need to register your event, and when, check out this list. First, however, understand the difference between an EVENT and a MEETING. EVENTS are generally open activities where anyone can attend (ticketed or not-ticketed), regardless of location. MEETINGS are generally closed sessions limited to a department or select group or people (i.e. student organization). MEETINGS generally do not need to be registered using this form unless they meet one of the criteria below (inviting a dignitary to speak, pot-luck meals, etc.).

If your event falls under multiple categories listed below with conflicting time frames (2 weeks vs. 4 weeks), default to the 4 week time frame.

These events DO NOT require an ERF, unless they also fit in a category listed below:

  • Meetings, since they are closed sessions limited to a department or select group or people (e.g., a student organization or Greek organization)
  • Closed events that are “invite only”
  • Events where the only food is pre-prepared by a commercial entity (e.g., pizza, snacks, subs, dessert)
  • Tabling used to promote an event/organization (no exchange of money and only pre-prepared food at table)
  • Outside rallies, demonstrations or protests that don’t have amplification or are amplified only between noon and 1:00 outside the Straight or Day Hall
  • Venues that have an occupancy of less than 50 people

These events require an ERF to be submitted TWO WEEKS in advance

  • Events that have food from an approved caterer
  • Tabling when the group is collecting money (e.g., Krispy Kreme fundraisers)
  • Events that will take place in a venue that have an occupancy between 50 – 150 people
  • Outdoor events that have amplified sound other than at the noon hour outside the Straight or Day Hall
  • Events where money is collected or tickets are being sold
  • Small events (occupancy between 50-150) that end before 11:00 p.m.
  • Students who use drones for recreational purposes
  • Events that involve student performers (musical acts, comedians, actors) in small venues (under 150 capacity)

These events require an ERF to be submitted FOUR WEEKS in advance

  • Events that involve a dignitary or a performing artist from outside the Cornell community (e.g., musical acts, comedians, actors)
  • Events that involve alcohol 
  • Events that involve cooking or serving home-cooked food (rather than having the event catered or serving pre-prepared food; this includes bake sales or tabling with home-cooked food)
  • Events that have the potential to go past 11:00 p.m.
  • Events that allow non-Cornell community members to attend
  • Events that will be held in a large-capacity venue or space, that is, capacity of 150 people or more
  • Any use of a drone for commercial purposes
  • Events that will use tents, stages or other temporary structures
  • Events that will require a permit from a governmental agency
  • Events that include high risk physical activities (e.g., open flames; road races, dunk tanks, see-saws, inflatables, or organized competitive sporting events sponsored by Greek or other student organizations)

Depending on the complexity of your event (food, alcohol, setup, etc.), you will need enough time to prepare certain requirements. These requirements may include food permitstemporary structure permits (stage, tents, etc.), crowd manager training, etc. For more information about preparing for your event, including information about caterers, alcohol, food trucks, etc., visit the Risk Management & Insurance website. For information about various permits, crowd management, and other event health & safety tips, visit the Environmental Health & Safety website.

** PLEASE NOTE: If your event is not registered within the time frame indicated, the form will not be processed, and your event will not be approved. If you're not sure whether your event should be registered, please feel free to write to us at, or call 607-255-4169.


Alcohol at Events

For graduate student organizations only. Undergraduate organizations are generally not permitted to serve alcohol on campus without special permission.

All events at which alcohol is served must be registered with SLECA at least twenty-one (21) days prior to the event using the Event Registration Form. A university-approved caterer must be used, and organizations must obtain the permits necessary for the service of alcoholic beverages on campus when any of the following conditions are met:

  • Admission is charged or a ticket sold.
  • Food is sold or provided by a caterer.
  • Anything of value is exchanged for alcohol.
  • The group includes more than twenty (20) people.

Sponsors of events at which alcohol is served must adhere to the Cornell University Alcohol Policy, as well as all local, state, and federal laws.

When planning an event at which alcohol will be served, be aware of the following:

  • Alcohol may not be served at concerts or intercollegiate athletic events.
  • “All-you-can-drink” events and drinking contests are prohibited.
  • Substantial nonalcoholic beverages and food must be available and clearly labeled.
  • Inducements to alcohol consumption must not be included in event promotion.
  • An authorized representative of the sponsoring group, who is 21 years of age or older and is designated as “person in charge,” will remain free from intoxicating substances during the event, and be formally responsible for the event.
  • Advertisements and promotion of events should highlight the availability of nonalcoholic refreshments. No reference is to be made to the amount or brand names of beverages being served.

Please be advised that Cornell Catering holds the license to serve alcohol in Robert Purcell Community Center and the Big Red Barn; the Department of Athletics and Physical Education holds the license for Kegglers Pub and Moakley House, and the Statler Hotel holds the license for the Statler Hotel. No other caterers are authorized to provide alcoholic beverage service in these facilities.


Film and Video Use

Cornell University is fortunate to have an outstanding cinema program. Cornell Cinema presents films daily throughout the academic year, in three theaters on the university campus. Any registered organization, academic department, or nonprofit community organization may seek cosponsorship with Cornell Cinema. As a cosponsor, Cornell Cinema will act as a resource and event-planning facilitator. Cornell Cinema is not a funding agency. Cosponsorship proposal forms can be obtained from the cinema office on the first floor of Willard Straight Hall. Proposals for fall-semester events are due the previous May 1, and spring-semester proposals are due October 15 (dates subject to change).

Any group wishing to show a film on campus without Cornell Cinema cosponsorship/sponsorship must contact the Cornell Cinema office. This avoids duplication of services. Cornell Cinema is the only organization on campus permitted to charge admission for film screenings.

Federal copyright law restricts public showings of videocassette tapes or DVDs. Videos and/or DVDs that are purchased or rented are typically for home use only. If a group plans to show a videotape or DVD in a campus building and/or to the general public, the group must contact Cornell Cinema, not charge admission, rent the video or DVD from a distributor who can grant rights to a public showing, and indicate on all promotion that the screening is on videotape or DVD.

When planning to show a film, videotape or DVD, some things to consider are:

  • What are the terms of the rental contract?
  • What equipment is needed for the screening?
  • Has the film/video been shown on campus in the past year?
  • Is the film/video scheduled by another group for screening in the next year?
  • Are other films scheduled on that date?


Food Service and Catering

Many events at Cornell include food service. Whether a pizza party, continental breakfast, reception, or full-course meal, event planners must adhere to university policies and local and state health regulations for catered events. Organizers of events where food is available must speak with the Food Safety Administrator at (607) 255-5539 at least fifteen days prior to the event. The Food Safety Administrator will review the menu and speak with event planners regarding food preparation and storage.

If a caterer’s services are required, the event must be reviewed by the Food Safety Administrator and the Department of Risk Management and Insurance. Staff members in the Department of Risk Management and Insurance can be reached at (607) 254-1575, and must review the certificate of insurance issued by the caterer’s insurance agent for the event. This document must show:

  • worker’s compensation coverage for all of the caterer’s employees
  • insurance coverage in the amount of $1,000,000 for general liability per occurrence, which includes product liability
  • designation of Cornell University as “additional named insured” for the event

Note that contracted caterers have different requirements than non-contracted caterers.  For example: contracted caterers are required to remove their trash, where non-contracted caterers are not. A list of contracted/non-contracted caterers can be viewed at

When planning your event, be aware that some buildings have specific requirements regarding food service. Ask about this when making reservations for your event.


Fundraising and Sales Activities

Occasional, limited on-campus fund-raising or sales activities may be conducted by university departments, registered student organizations, and individuals involved in course-related entrepreneurial sales activities. Applicants who wish to engage in occasional fund-raising or retail sales activities are subject to the following conditions:

  • A completed on-line Event Registration form must be submitted to SLECA at least fifteen days prior to the proposed sale or fund-raising activity.
  • The activities must be approved by the Office of Community Relations.
  • Applicable municipal and state permit requirements must be observed.
  • Products or services offered for sale should preferably be obtained from suppliers located in Tompkins County or as the result of a request-for-proposals process open to local merchants.
  • All participating fund-raising or sales personnel must be members of the Cornell community.
  • Use of net proceeds from such sales will be limited to the support of: (1) programs and services of a registered student organization, university department, or unit; (2) charitable organizations shown to have approved the activity at the time the appropriate forms were submitted (proposals for fund-raising must include an original letter from the charitable organization stating that they are aware of and approve the fund-raising endeavor on their behalf); or (3) individuals whose sales activities are part of a defined academic program.

Fundraising and sales proposals must include either actual samples or detailed descriptions of all products and services to be offered for retail sale. The university reserves the right to withhold approval of the sale of any product or service, and to terminate the fund-raising activity or sale of products not submitted for advance approval.


Events and Risk

Even the most simple event can become the scene of a serious incident. The university urges all organizations to consider the risk associated with their events during the early planning stages. It is advisable to have a management plan in place to address the risks associated with your organization’s activity. This plan should include a site diagram of the event and a plan for handling emergencies.

Students and other members of registered organizations may be held personally liable for incidents, injuries, and damages that occur during events sponsored by their organization. Thus, everyone concerned should be aware of and try to identify potential risks.

Additional information on managing risk may be obtained from SLECA or the Department of Risk Management and Insurance (607) 254-1575.


Club Insurance

All independent registered graduate and undergraduate student organizations are covered by the student club insurance policy, which is purchased via a nominal portion of the Student Activity Fee (SAF). To keep the coverage affordable, it is strongly recommended that clubs properly manage their events to keep them as safe as possible. The program* provides the following limits:

  • $1 million per occurrence for general liability
  • $2 million general aggregate for general liability
  • $1 million liquor liability with special conditions for graduate organizations only
  • $10,000 medical expense excluding athletic participants

The policy provides coverage for participant legal liability, product/completed operations, non-owned auto, and bodily injury or property damage. Please call Risk Management and Insurance at (607) 254-1575 with coverage questions or to request a Certificate of Insurance.

* This information is meant as a summary and as such does not represent the complete terms and conditions of the policy. In the event of conflicting terms with the policy, the policy shall be the authoritative document regarding coverage.


Noise Ordinance

Because many classes and university administrative functions are scheduled during the week, amplified sound is not permitted anywhere on campus Monday through Friday, except in front of Willard Straight Hall between noon and 1 p.m. (with appropriate approval). The noise levels at those times must be within reasonable limits as determined by Willard Straight Hall staff members.

Amplified sound is permitted on Saturday and Sunday, but a noise permit must be obtained from the City of Ithaca mayor’s office for all outdoor events with amplified sound except rallies (see Rallies below) where only a microphone or megaphone is provided for individual speakers. Applications for noise permits are available on-line at Plan ahead! It may take at least three weeks for the city to review your request.

* Cornell University may choose to require time and location requirements.


Open Fires

Events involving open fires require the completion of a University Open Burning Permit (available in 521 WSH) and may require a permit or approval from the local fire department. An Event Registration Form is also required for the event. Open Burning Policy regulations and guidelines are available from Environmental Health and Safety (607) 255-8200. The use of barbecue grills and other outdoor portable cooking equipment does not require an open burning permit. Barbecue grills may only be used outside and away from structures and vehicles.



Many organizations use rallies on campus as forums to present views on campus, national, and world issues. Title One (Statement of Principles and Policies), Article III (Responsible Speech and Expression) of the Campus Code of Conduct outlines the university policy on responsible speech and expression. Rally organizers are expected to be familiar with this section of the campus code, assure each speaker’s right to free speech, and take reasonable steps to ensure the safety of speakers and participants. The rally space is located on Ho Plaza between WSH and the Campus Store. To reserve this space, organizations must make reservations on-line using the R25 Reservation System, and complete the Event Registration Form. In accordance with the campus noise ordinance, and to minimize the potential for disruption of classes, amplified sound is permitted on campus only between the hours of noon and 1:00 p.m. on weekdays. This is the only time organizations may use a microphone or megaphone at rallies. Emergency regulations forbid crowds on and in front of the WSH steps.


Merchandise Approval
Using Cornell's name, logo or artwork on merchandise

Cornell, like most major colleges and universities, has policy and a licensing program that regulates the use of its marks (i.e., names, trademarks, insignia, logos, images, and the like) on items such as T-shirts, caps, key chains, mugs, pens, banners, table cloths, stickers, etc. This process helps prevent bootlegging, ensures that Cornell marks are used appropriately on quality products approved by the university, and that the products are manufactured under a labor code of conduct that prohibits sweatshop conditions. All uses of university name and marks, including those of schools and colleges, departments, programs, and student organizations and projects that are identified with Cornell, must be approved before any item can be ordered and produced.

For your request to be approved you must select a manufacturer that is licensed by Cornell University. A list of licensed manufacturers is available on-line (see the bottom section of the list). A separate request form must be submitted for each item. Cornell University's Brand Center includes the required on-line request form to obtain approval for merchandise designs. Submissions are typically reviewed within 48 business hours and you will receive an email with a formal approval, or instructions on how to make the design compliant. The email approval is required for expense reimbursement and should be obtained before placing any order.



Political Campaign Activity

According to Cornell University Policy 4.18:

Cornell University supports freedom of thought and expression by members of its community. Cornell encourages faculty, staff, and students to be full participants in the civic process, including communicating with policymakers on issues of importance and contributing time and money to the candidates of their choice as private citizens, using their own resources. These activities must be done in a personal capacity, and not imply in any way that the university supports, opposes, or otherwise endorses any candidate for public office.

For Clubs and Organizations:

Recognized independent student organizations must clearly indicate and prominently disclose their separateness from the university when engaging in political campaign activity, including sponsoring an event on campus. Organizers must make a disclaimer at the beginning of any such event, as well as in any printed materials or advertisements publicizing the event, that the university does not endorse candidates for public office, that the opinions expressed are not those of the university, and that an independent recognized organization has sponsored the event, such as the following:

“This event/publication/solicitation is sponsored solely by the [name of independent recognized organization] without the support or endorsement of Cornell University. Cornell University does not participate in political campaigns on behalf of, or in opposition to, any candidate for public office.”

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Contact Us

Campus Activities Office
5th Floor, Willard Straight Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853
phone: 607.255.4169
fax: 607.255.1116


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