Planning to host an event? No need to search any further. Use this section to begin and think through the event planning process. It includes useful resources for planning a successful event, hiring security officers, managing risk, guidelines for contracts and agreements, having food, and important university policies. Please visit Student Organizations and COVID-19 for specific information about Fall 2020. At the end of the section you will find some event planning tips and a helpful event planning checklist.
- Types of Events
- Planning and Registering an Event**
- Managing Risk
- Reading Day and Exam Periods
- Requesting Security Officers**
- Security Grants
- Student Organization Travel**
- Guidelines for Contracts and Agreements**
- Copyrighted Material**
- Political Activities**
- Student Demonstrations**
- University Position Statement on Alcohol**
- Guidelines for Hosting Student Organization Events with Alcohol**
- Marketing and Posting Policy**
- Town of Elon Ordinances**
- Best Practices for Event Planning
- Event Planning Checklist
** denotes a University or student organization policy
All recognized student organizations on campus host some type of event(s) throughout the year. An event can be defined as large or small occurrences that contain programming or social aspects including but not limited to: speakers, performances, philanthropies, fundraisers, social gatherings, conferences, rallies, outside exhibits, Moseley Center tables, College Coffee tables, etc. Events are usually advertised and open to the public or campus community. An event is anything a group plans that is not a meeting. Also, any use of University facilities, name, or funding by a student organization is considered an event.
Here are some helpful questions to consider when determining if what you are planning could be considered an organization-sponsored event or activity:
- Is the event being hosted or planned by one or more members of the organization and supported by the executive board/officers/leaders?
- Is the event financed by the organization and/or being hosted on campus?
- Is the event being hosted or planned by one or more organization members and supported by members/associate/new members?
- Does the executive board/officers/leaders have prior knowledge of the event?
- Is the event listed or advertised on the organization website, social media accounts, or in group messages?
- Do online invitations refer to the organization?
- Is the event listed on an organization calendar [public or private]?
- Will the event be announced at an organization meeting?
- Will members of the executive board/officers/leaders be in attendance?
- Are members attempting to rename the event in order to give the appearance that it isn’t associated with the organization?
- If guests were stopped on their way to the event, would they say they were going to the “XYZ organization” event?
- Is the event actively or passively endorsed by a majority of active organization members/leaders?
- If something happens at the event, is the president one of the first people you would call?
If you answered ‘YES’ to any of these questions, then what you are planning could be considered an organization-sponsored event.
Student organizations are required to register all on-campus events through PhoenixCONNECT. Organizations are also required to register events off-campus when using University vehicles, University name or University funds (department or SGA funding). Many organizations may choose to host events or programs off-campus. This may include community service opportunities, retreats, conferences, or social events. Student organizations holding off-campus events will assume the responsibility and liability for such events and activities. If any reasonable person would assume that an event off-campus is related to a recognized organization, then it can be considered an organization-sponsored event. For all planned events, organizations are advised to consider best practices and event planning guidelines. Know that student organizations and their members are expected to follow all University policies and procedures regardless of the event location.
Each semester the University recognizes one day, known as Reading Day, between the end of classes and the start of examinations for students to review class materials, study, and prepare for finals. As organization leaders, it is your responsibility to make sure the organization does not involve members or other students in activities that distract them from their focused learning this day. Please be mindful of the priority for intellectual reflection and academic preparation that takes place during the time between the end of classes and the beginning of exams. Additionally, please know that event submissions will be denied for activities or events that involve students after the last day of classes through the entire exam period each semester.
All events have some element of risk. Event planners must work diligently to identify potential risks and minimize them. The term “risk” can be defined as the potential loss, damage, or danger associated with an event, activity, or decision made by the organization. Any possibility of loss, harm or damage to individuals or property with an organization event or activity would be considered to be at risk. Thorough planning and following established risk management guidelines are the most effective means to reduce risk of harm or litigation.
Through the event registration process, specific details of the event may prompt the need for a student organization to request security officers for events on campus or in University-run facilities. These could include:
- Alcohol is present.
- The event is planned to occur overnight on campus.
- There is an expected attendance of over 100 participants. If there are no alcohol or entry fees, a faculty or staff advisor can be present in lieu of security officers for the duration of the event (1 advisor per 100 participants). Security may be determined on a case-by-case basis by Student Involvement in consultation with Campus Safety and Police.
- The event is late night and/or requires an entry fee. Security may be determined on a case-by-case basis by Student Involvement in consultation with Campus Safety and Police.
- The event poses potential loss, damage, or danger to individuals or property.
- The event is a competition or debate and does not meet the above criteria; it will be decided by Student Involvement in consultation with Campus Safety and Police (i.e. political debate, step show, club sports, etc.).
- It is recommended by an organization advisor or a University administrator.
The decision about need for security officer(s) at student organization events will be made by Student Involvement, in consultation with Campus Safety and Police.
To provide for the health and safety of students who attend on-campus events with alcohol or other late night alcohol-free parties, the University requires student groups to work with our University Campus Safety and Police to hire off-duty police officers (as stated above) for the duration of the event. Recognizing that security expenses can be prohibitive and that on-campus social events are important to our campus community, the Division of Student Life has created a fund to help off-set some cost of these events. ALL recognized student groups in good standing with the University can apply to have the University subsidize up to two events per year by applying for a security grant. The average cost of each officer is $35/hour for a minimum of four hours (regardless if the event is less than 4 hours). Student Involvement staff can work with the organization to determine if the event is eligible to apply for the grant and then work through the payment/reimbursement process.
To be eligible to apply for a Security Grant, please consider the below information:
- The primary audience for these events must be undergraduate students. This grant is not available for Alumni Homecoming events/parties.
- The main purpose of these events must be social in nature, but alcohol does not have to be present. These grants are not available for philanthropy events where officers may be required because of event size.
- If alcohol is present, the sponsoring organization MUST work with Elon Dining or follow University BYOB guidelines as well as all Inter/National Organization policies if applicable.
- All events must be in an on-campus location and must be registered with the University through PhoenixCONNECT.
- All University risk management and event policies must be followed as outlined in the PhoenixCONNECT event registration process. If an event is shutdown early because of failure to follow these policies, groups will be asked to reimburse the University for the cost of the officers.
Money will be allocated on a first come, first-serve basis for up to two events, per organization, per academic year.
Travel off-campus is often part of a student organization’s activity. The following guidelines apply to student organization travel within the contiguous United States:
- Student organizations should register their travel as a student organization event through PhoenixCONNECT.
- The organization must have a designated student trip leader who is traveling with the group, has attended an in-person training/education session, and serves as the primary contact for the University in the event of accident, injury, illness, travel disruption, natural disaster, local emergency, etc. during travel.
- Student trip leaders are strongly encouraged to communicate frequently with the organization advisor, providing a copy of the itinerary and contact information for all participants before traveling, communicating with the advisor upon departure and arrival, and contacting the advisor should any problems arise while traveling.
- Student trip leaders should call Campus Safety and Police to have the University’s Administrator on Call (AOC) paged in the event of any illness or injury requiring medical treatment or causing a disruption in travel.
- If university-owned vehicles are used for transportation, drivers must be registered and approved in advance and the organization must comply with all policies and expectations for use of university vehicles. Information about reserving university vehicles and becoming an approved driver can be found on the Moseley Center website.
All travel to international destinations (including U.S. territories) by student organizations must be registered and approved by the Global Education Center as a short-term international program and the organization must comply with all related policies and requirements. One or more faculty/staff advisors are required to accompany student organizations on all international travel.
Often times when hosting events, a contractual agreement is requested on behalf of a third party, including, but not limited to, an artist, performer, speaker, vendor, or the use of an off-campus facility. If there are questions regarding any contracts and the signature process, please contact Student Involvement.
Students or advisors should never sign contracts or agreements on behalf of their organization or Elon. All contracts for goods and services must be properly executed by the Director of Purchasing. Any contract signed by anyone (student, faculty or staff member) other than the Director of Purchasing will be considered null and void and the person who signed the contract or agreement will be responsible for all payments, etc., associated with the contract. The University will not take any responsibility for these contracts. More information about contracts and securing proper approval/authorization may be found on the Purchasing website.
Elon Dining has exclusive right to sell, deliver, or distribute alcohol and food on University property. Any use of outside food vendors must be approved by the Resident District Manager for Elon Dining in advance. Mill Point Catering, a division of Elon Dining, offers catering for student organizations. Know that Domino’s Pizza is an Elon Dining approved outside food vendor and does not require prior approval. Visit their website for more details and for contact information regarding placing a catering order for the next event. Specific questions about contracts and agreements for goods and services related to food and beverage may be directed to the Director of Auxiliary Services.
Barnes & Noble
Elon has an exclusive contract with Barnes & Noble for the selling and/or distribution of other goods and services. All student organization requests for selling of items must be approved in advance by the managers of Barnes & Noble at Elon University located in the Elon Town Center. Specific questions about contracts and agreements for material goods and services may be directed to the Assistant Vice President for Administrative Services.
Use of University Name and Logo**
When ordering customized student organization items or using the Elon University name in print, student organizations are required to follow the Elon University’s identity and style guide. All student organizations must seek approval from Administrative Services PRIOR to ordering or printing any customized items using the Elon University name or logo. Please consult with the Assistant Director of Administrative Services regarding any item and preferred design.
Movie Screening and Copyrights**
Planning to host a movie night or film screening? Please use the flow chart below to determine if it is necessary to purchase the copyrights and proper licenses to screen the film. Contact Student Involvement with any questions.
Elon University encourages civic engagement and active participation in the process of democracy, which are central to the mission of preparing graduates who are “global citizens and informed leaders motivated by a concern for the common good.” We emphasize our responsibility to live in community, acknowledging our interdependency with others. We believe that civic engagement necessitates political involvement and active participation in democratic decision-making.
While affirming this commitment to political engagement, Elon is a private non-profit tax-exempt educational institution under Section 501(c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code which prohibits its “participation in, or intervention in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaigns on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office.” The following guidelines were developed to ensure an environment for robust political engagement that also meets applicable legal requirements. Elon University retains the right to refuse or limit access to campus facilities or to suspend or cancel any event that does not meet with these guidelines.
All political activities must be approved and conducted in a manner consistent with these guidelines and no University facilities or resources may be used for political activities or purposes, except as approved through these guidelines. “Political activities” means political campaign activities and events, including but not limited to any political candidate appearances on campus such as forums, debates, speeches, and campaign rallies, and voter registration and education activities. The University has final discretion in decisions regarding the sponsorship of political activities and these decisions are made by a Political Activities Working Group chaired by the Executive Vice President / Provost and comprised of appropriate University officials appointed by the President.
Guidelines for Political Candidate Appearances or Campaign Events
Elon University does not provide institutional support or endorsement of individual candidates for political office. However, recognized student organizations, the Council on Civic Engagement, and other approved groups may use available University space for political candidate appearances, or for persons officially recognized by the party and campaign in lieu of a political candidate, consistent with the following guidelines:
- All political events sponsored on campus must be registered and approved in advance through the PhoenixCONNECT Event Registration process: www.elon.edu/phoenixconnect. The University will assign an appropriate venue to approved events on the basis of operational considerations such as academic needs and schedules, and safety and potential for disruption for students or other University activities.
- Events must be held in a time, place, and manner which reduces disruption to classes or other activities on campus.
- Events will be open to all members of the University community. Tickets, if they are used, must be free and must be made available to students, faculty and staff. Tickets designated for members of the University community may not be distributed in a manner that ensures that attendees representing a particular point of view will be over-represented at the event.
- Campus Safety and Police will be consulted to determine the need for security at events. The cost for any additional security will be charged to the sponsoring organization. For some events, such as for a major campaign candidate, the candidate may be required to provide and pay for security for the event. All non-University security personnel must operate in a coordinated manner with Elon University’s Campus Safety and Police.
- Prior to the event, the event organizers and University administration will determine whether signs will be allowed. Whatever the decision, it will apply to all members of the audience, no matter their views.
No political fundraising will be permitted.
- Consistent with the Internal Revenue Code, University communications about the event, including campaign literature, announcements, or solicitations, and the introduction of the speaker at the event must include an explicit statement that Elon University does not support or oppose any particular candidate for office, and no political fundraising is permitted at the event.
- Enforcement of University policies at events may be conducted only by designated officials of Elon University and/or authorized law enforcement officers.
- When a legally recognized candidate for an office is approved to speak at Elon, equal opportunities for all legally recognized candidates seeking the same office will be provided.
- Candidates may appear or speak at events in a non-candidate capacity but neither campaign activities nor mention of their candidacies may occur.
- Candidates may not campaign on campus except as part of officially approved appearances or events covered by these guidelines.
Guidelines for University-Sponsored Political Forums
When several candidates for the same public office are invited to speak at a university-sponsored public forum or debate, in addition to the above, the following guidelines will apply:
- The forum or debate must be non-partisan and sponsored for the purpose of educating voters.
- All legally recognized candidates for a particular public office (or for the nomination of a particular party) must be invited. Candidates for the same public office will be given equal access and opportunity to speak.
- Questions for the candidates should be prepared and presented by an independent nonpartisan moderator or panel.
- Topics discussed by the candidates should cover a broad range of issues that the candidates would address if elected to the office sought and are of interest to the public.
- Each candidate should be given an equal opportunity to present the candidate’s respective views on the issues discussed.
- A moderator’s comments on the questions should not imply approval or disapproval of the candidates.
Candidates may not be asked to agree or disagree with positions, agendas, platforms, or statements of Elon University.
Guidelines for Voter Education or Voter Registration
The Civic Engagement Council schedules robust voter education and voter registration activities for students and encourages student organizations and University departments to support these efforts. Any additional voter education or voter registration activities conducted by student organizations or University departments must be carried out in a non-partisan manner and may not be combined with any campaign activity. Voter registration activities to be held on campus from organizations outside of Elon University must be sponsored by a student organization or University department and be approved in advance by the University Political Activities Working Group.
Contact Information about Political Activities
For questions about sponsoring political activities, contact the Dean of Student Development.
Elon University encourages open, on-going intellectual engagement and debate through civil, mutually respectful interactions that preserve the openness of public dialogue and debate. An environment that encourages diverse views and the free exchange of ideas is vital to the Elon University mission. Therefore, the University ensures that students may assemble peacefully and respects the right of all students to express their ideas freely and to demonstrate their concerns collectively by orderly means.
The University requests that activities and events be registered to ensure safety and the orderly functioning of the University, but does not seek to censor or marginalize any group or point of view. When expressing their views, students must be clear that they are expressing their personal viewpoints and do not represent the views or positions of the University, may not use university logos, etc., and must assume responsibility for the consequences of their actions. All forms of speech/protest must not interfere with the normal operations of the University and must adhere to all applicable University policies and laws.
To provide a convenient and visible location for spontaneous, unregistered student activism and civic engagement activities/programs on campus, an area in front of the Moseley Center (near the intersection of Koury Center and Moseley Center) is designated as a “Speakers’ Corner” for individual students or student groups. Permissible activities at this location include displaying signboards on which students may write their opinions, student speeches or handouts on a current issue, a memorial vigil, etc. These activities at Speakers’ Corner do not require registration so long as they do not involve persons outside the University, do not employ sound amplification, and do not cause a safety hazard or damage to property.
The following additional guidelines apply to student demonstrations and protests:
- Demonstrations and protests planned in advance may be registered through the PhoenixCONNECT event registration process. The registration of demonstrations and protests will be expedited and response will normally be within one to two business days.
- Students may protest or hold demonstrations in any venue that can be reserved for events including, but not limited to, the Phi Beta Kappa Plaza, Lakeside Terrace, McKinnon Hall, Chandler Fountain and Plaza, or Scott Plaza.
- Protests and demonstration areas established by the university in response to campus speakers, programs, or political events will be in reasonable proximity to the event.
- When protests or demonstrations occur in the context of a speaker on campus, audience members may not behave in a way that infringes upon others’ ability to view or to comprehend the speaker. During the speech itself, prolonged or continued chanting or possible incitement of a disturbance intended to distract the speaker or disrupt the speech can, at the discretion of law enforcement or designated University officials, result in individuals being removed from the event.
For questions about these guidelines or organizing a student demonstration, contact the Dean of Student Development.
Elon University is committed to the intellectual and personal development of students. Alcohol misuse inhibits students’ development and is negatively correlated with academic success and personal safety. The vitality of the academic community relies on each member taking personal responsibility for his or her actions regarding alcohol use and safeguarding the well-being of others.
- The University welcomes and supports the decision of students not to drink.
- Elon emphasizes education about risks, choices and personal responsibility regarding the use of alcohol. Students are expected to make conscious choices that do not diminish the academic or social success, or personal safety, of themselves or others.
- The University observes laws regarding alcohol use, particularly those that address underage drinking, and holds students accountable for their choices.
- Students whose drinking creates a risk of danger to the health and safety of themselves or others are subject to suspension and/or loss of other University privileges.
- Alcoholic beverages may be possessed and/or consumed only by individuals 21 years of age or older in their residence or an approved location.
- All campus events with alcohol must be registered through PhoenixCONNECT at least 3 weeks prior to the planned event.
- Student organizations are not permitted to host organization-sponsored events with alcohol at a private residence.
- Alcoholic beverages in non-residential areas on campus must be provided and sold by Elon Dining since they have the alcohol license and have trained staff to distribute.
- The possession of kegs, common containers, or multi-serving containers which hold or have held alcohol is strictly prohibited at organization-sponsored events, including in vehicles.
- The university abides by the law of the state of North Carolina which prohibits persons who are less than 21 years of age from possessing or consuming alcoholic beverages of all types. Individuals, and/or organizations will be held responsible should they dispense such beverages to persons who have not yet reached age 21.
- The public display or consumption of alcoholic beverages is prohibited by University policy and the laws of the State of North Carolina. No party — formal or informal, planned or spontaneous — involving the use of alcoholic beverages may be held in any area of the campus without prior approval. “Public” is defined in terms of the following locations: all open spaces on the campus; all dining halls and snack bars; all hallways and stairways; all bathrooms and auxiliary rooms and every other space exclusive of individual residence hall rooms, residence halls and residence space under authority of the university. Students may consume alcoholic beverages provided they are 21 or older, in residence hall rooms and at registered student events.
- An organization must not co-host or co-sponsor, or in any way participate in, an activity or event with another group or entity that purchases or provides alcohol.
- Organizations must not co-host or co-sponsor an event with a bar, event promoter or alcohol distributor; however, organizations may register an event at a bar, restaurant, or other licensed and insured third-party vendor to host an organization event.
- Attendance by non-organization members/guests at any event where alcohol is present must be by invitation only.
- Attendance at events with alcohol must not exceed local fire or building code capacity of the space on campus or host venue.
- The organization and its members must not permit, encourage, coerce, glorify or participate in any activities involving the rapid consumption of alcohol, such as drinking games.
Approved posters and flyers are only permitted on approved posting locations across campus. The full posting policy can be found on the Moseley Center website. University Print Services can assist with the printing of posters, banners, flyers, and other marketing materials.
Digital media boards exist in several locations around campus, including in the Moseley Center. Please visit the Moseley Center website for information about locations and size dimensions of the varying digital signs on campus.
As a recognized student organization, organization leaders are expected to follow all local, state, and national laws and be familiar with all Town of Elon ordinances. Some ordinances which may have an impact during event planning process include:
Noise Violations –It shall be unlawful for any person, firm, or corporation to create or assist in creating any unreasonably loud, disturbing sound levels in the Town (especially between 11:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m.); or loud noise near any school, educational facility, church, or court during normal operating hours.
Fires – With the popularity of fire bowls/pits, students will want to be careful about any open burning. Some contained open fires are permissible outside but residents are also responsible for any damages.
Trash Violations – It is unlawful for any person to throw, drop, or leave any deteriorated household materials, waste material, unusable building materials or any other trash on any public or private properties within the corporate limits of the Town.
Below are some helpful suggestions that will assist you throughout the event planning process:
- Start planning EARLY! – consider all other university and organization events taking place.
- Think about the objective of this event – what is the purpose, who is your target audience, do you have the budget to support the event?
- Utilize your advisor as you plan your event.
- Identify an appropriate location – think about whether you need a classroom meeting space, large meeting or programming space, space for marketing and tabling, or an outdoor location.
- If you are planning an event outdoors, have you thought of a rain plan?
- Think about collaborating with other student organizations or groups on campus.
- What marketing strategies will you use to encourage students to attend your event?
- Review all Elon policies and guidelines associated with the planned event (i.e. contracts, use of funding, alcohol, food, security, travel, etc.).
- Ask questions – The Involvement Ambassadors (Moseley 207), Student Involvement (Moseley 206 & 207), or the Moseley Campus Center Front Desk are great places to start. We are here to help your event be a success!
The following is a basic checklist and important questions to ask when planning a student organization event at Elon. It is not an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide to provide assistance through the event planning process. Student Involvement and the Moseley Center are good resources if there are any questions.
Come up with an idea for an event
- What is the goal of your event/what do you hope to accomplish?
- Who is your audience or expected attendees?
- Does this event reflect the mission and purpose of your organization and Elon University?
- Does this event have any safety concerns?
- What are the budgetary implications of hosting this event?
- What other groups or organizations could you collaborate with to host this event?
- Have you talked with your advisor about the proposed event?
- Do you have ample planning time? (all student organization events must be submitted at least three weeks prior to the requested date)
Choose a date and a location
- Choosing your ideal location and date:
o What other events are also going on during this same time?
o Will you be able to reserve your preferred location?
- Register the event and request your location through your organization page on PhoenixCONNECT (you will be prompted to answer specific questions regarding your event through the event registration form on PhoenixCONNECT).
- For an outdoor event, did you also identify an indoor location or a rain date?
- Identify and secure any audio and visual needs.
- If security is needed, please be prepared to complete an Officer Request Form to be included in your PhoenixCONNECT event submission.
- Consider your moving and set up needs for your preferred location (tables, chairs, etc…). All requests must be submitted through a FIXit request.
- If you are having food and/or alcohol at your event, you are required to work with Elon Dining services, our campus dining provider, or receive prior approval from Elon Dining to provide your own food.
- Bringing a speaker, presenter, entertainer, or performance to campus?
o Get quotes from multiple artists or vendors
- Finalize your budget for the event and keep track of all receipts.
- If showing a movie, obtain copyrights.
Marketing and advertising
- Develop a marketing plan – how will you advertise this event?
o PhoenixCONNECT and Corq
o Social media sites
o Word of mouth
- Consider reserving a Moseley table to assist with marketing
o Tabling in Moseley (reserve through PhoenixCONNECT)
Remember these are just a few details and questions to consider when planning to host an event or activity with your organization. At any time during the event planning process, we welcome you to contact Student Involvement or the Moseley Center.