- Pre-Event Planning
- Riverside Campus Reservations
- Events Involving Minors
- Film Showing at Events
- Food at Events
- Alcohol at Events
- Gambling at Events
- Bingo at Events
- Crisis Management
- Event Planning Resources
The goal of the proactive risk management guidelines is to ensure that student organizations plan and host events where everyone involved has a safe and fun experience. Risk management is the process of advising organizations of the potential and perceived risks involved in their activities, as well as supervising organization activities and taking corrective actions and proactive steps to minimize accidental injury and/or loss.
The Department of Student Activities offers the service of event planning reviews, in which your organization submits a Pre-Event Planning Form through the StuAct Online system, and the Risk Management team responds with relevant information and suggestions. This form should be electronically submitted at least ten (10) business days in advance of your event to ensure a complete review. In some cases, your organization may be required to submit the Pre-Event Planning Form when the event includes any of the following (including but not limited to events involving travel, events involving alcohol, events requiring insurance, and cases in which your organization is seeking resources from our department). To submit an Event Planning Form to the Department of Student Activities, please sign in to StuAct Online and locate the form link under "Resources" on your organization's homepage. You can also directly access the Event Planning Form at http://studentactivities.tamu.edu/online/forms/preeventplanning/index.
The steps to proper pre-event planning are the following:
- List all activities and aspects of your event with detail.
- Identify the risks associated with each activity or aspect. Consider each of the following:
a. Physical risks (injury, death, travel, food-related illnesses, etc.)
b. Reputation risks (the reputation of your officers and members, the reputation of the whole organization, the reputation of the university)
c. Emotional risks (the emotions of your members, reactions of participants or attendees, sensitive subject matter, potential controversy, etc.)
d. Financial risks (cost reduction, proper budgeting, etc.)
e. Facilities risks (the safety of the facilities for your participants or attendees, the maintenance and clean-up of the facilities, etc.)
- Assess each risk for probability of occurrence and seriousness of consequences. Refer to the Event Planning Matrix for a visual explanation of assessing your risks (linked in a document at the bottom of this page).
- Make decisions about how to manage each risk identified in Step 2. You can accept, modify, transfer, and/or eliminate each risk based on its assessment in Step 3.
- Share your plans and risk management actions with the others involved in planning the event, and implement your event according to those decisions.
- Assess the success of your event after its completion. Document your evaluation information for next year's officers.
More general information about event planning can be accessed at http://studentactivities.tamu.edu/risk/eventplanning.
You can also find information on how to plan specific types of events on our How-To's page.
Finally, if you are unsure whether or not your activity qualifies as an "organizational event," ask yourselves the following questions:
- What is the purpose of the event? Does it relate to my student organization?
- Who will attend the event, and why?
- What resources are being used for the event? Is our organization providing any funding, marketing, etc. for the event?
- How is the event being publicized or communicated, both to the general public or campus community and to my organization's members?
- Would a reasonable person associate this event with my organization? Would the media associate the event with my organization?
If you have any reservations about these questions or have even a slight feeling that the event might qualify as an organizational event, it probably does. Err on the side of caution and plan for a safe event in compliance with the guidelines set forth for student organizations!
Riverside Campus Reservations (Riverside Chapel)
Recognized student organizations may reserve Riverside Chapel for organization use only, free of charge. A floor plan of this facility can be found here: Riverside Chapel Floor plan. Chairs and Tables are available for use at the facility. Please contact (979) 862-2842 with any questions about using Riverside campus facilities and reservations.
To schedule use of the Riverside Campus Chapel, follow the directions below:
- Recognized Student Organizations as well as Officers reserving the venue for this event must be in good standing with the University.
- Check the Riverside Chapel Calendar for availability.
- Complete a Pre Event Planning Form with information about your event and organization.
- Follow the Riverside Chapel online scheduling reservation system on the TAMU Office of Facilities website.
- Contact Bob Rudder at (979) 845-2281 or firstname.lastname@example.org with questions regarding Riverside Campus gate access.
Note: Alcohol is not allowed at the Riverside Campus Chapel.
The Student Travel Rule applies when your organization is traveling to an event or activity located 25 miles or more away from the university (Bryan/College Station) and that activity is sponsored by the university, funded by the university, undertaken using a university vehicle, or undertaken under the scope of the organization. For all in-state and out-of-state travel, the following procedures apply:
- Your organization must submit a Travel Information Form online, per the Student Travel Rule, within at least 48 hours of your event. This form will request information about the logistics of your travel plans and the names, student ID's, and emergency contact information of all traveling participants. In the case of an emergency during your trip, staff members from UPD and the Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT) will serve as your on-campus liaisons for crisis management. The form to fill out, the "Travel Information Form" is located at https://studentactivities.tamu.edu/online/forms/cirt/index .
- Each traveling member must sign a waiver and release form that specifies the dangers associated with the organization's trip. You can adapt the standard form at http://studentactivities.tamu.edu/files/riskrelease.pdf or develop your own form in consultation with your advisor and the Department of Student Activities.
These two requirements are the minimum measures your organization should take to address the risks associated with travel. We also strongly suggest developing behavior expectations for participants and emergency response procedures. More information about general trip planning can be found at http://studentactivities.tamu.edu/risk/travel. The SOFC also has resources for organizations needing funds specifically for travel expenses.
If your organization is planning an event involving international travel, you must plan far in advance with both the Department of Student Activities and the Study Abroad Programs Office. Please note that undergraduates are not permitted to travel to foreign countries under a travel warning issued by the State Department (see http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis_pa_tw_1168.html for a list of countries under travel warnings). Please submit a Pre-Event Planning Form for your event, and staff members from the Risk Management team will respond for relevant procedures and advice. The Study Abroad Programs Office will require an application for your organization's event as well, and can provide your organization with helpful resources for your specific country of travel.
There are numerous options for transportation to your events. Requirements, suggestions, and contact information for more assistance about using personal vehicles, rental vehicles, commercial vehicles, charter buses, and airplanes can be found at http://studentactivities.tamu.edu/risk/transporation. For instance, trainings are required for certain modes of transportation, such as fifteen (15) passenger vans rented through Enterprise. Another example is that organizations using personal vehicles should ensure that all drivers have up-to-date licenses, insurance, and inspections, understand that they are assuming liability for all passengers, and have agreed to follow safe driving practices.
Events Involving Minors
A camp or program for minors is a university-sponsored activity that has a participant group made up, in whole or in part, of individuals under the age of eighteen (18). According to the university standard administrative procedures (see http://rules-saps.tamu.edu/PDFs/11.99.99.M1.01.pdf), camps and programs for minors are subject to a special set of procedures for approval.
These procedures include:
- Background screenings for all staff and volunteers
- Safety and medical care provisions
- Child Protection Training
- General liability and accident medical insurance coverage
- Approval to charge through the SOFC
- Incident reports
- Support Service Fees
The application for camps and enrichment programs must be electronically submitted through StuAct Online at least 8 weeks in advance of your event.
Along with your application, you will need to submit:
- Copies of your program budget
- Detailed itinerary
- Background screening information
- Medical notification letter
- Approval to charge forms
- Waiver forms
The camps application can be accessed here
Film Showing at Events
Swank Motion Pictures:
Any showing of a film, movie or documentary outside of the academic classroom requires licensing and permission from the production company. Licensing costs vary per film and scale of audience. Student Activities works closely with Swank Motion Pictures when it comes to licensing for student organizations. For information on movies and Swank Motion Pictures: http://www.swank.com/college/index.html
Please fill out the SWANK Exhibition Request form at least 10 days prior to showing and send to the designated contacts.
Exhibition Request Form: http://studentactivities.tamu.edu/site_files/SWANK Exhibition Request Form.doc,
Food at Events
Any event involving the sale of food requires a concessions permit from the Department of Student Activities, as explained in the Publicity and Communication section of this manual. If no transaction is taking place and you are just distributing the food, no concessions permit is necessary.
If your event is only serving food (whether catered or personally prepared) internally, to members of your organization, no forms or permits are required. However, if the event is serving food to anyone outside your membership, you will have to abide by the following rules.
A Food Distribution Form must be submitted to the TAMU Office of Environmental Health & Safety anytime a potentially hazardous food (PHF) is served on campus. Potentially hazardous foods can cause a foodborne illness if handled or prepared improperly. Examples include:
- Meat products
- Dairy products
- Fruits and vegetables
Catered Food: Hired or Brought in
Form due: 7 days prior to event
- Ensure that the vendor has all necessary health permits and follow proper food handling procedures to distribute the items.
- You must also complete the Food Distribution Using Caterers Form:
- Submit it to Environmental Health & Safety no later than 7 business days prior to your event.
- Have a completed copy available at the event and displayed
Prepared by Organization: Preparing and Serving
Form due: 7 days prior to event
- You must complete this form: http://ehsd.tamu.edu/documents/FoodSafety/FoodDistributionForm.pdf
- Submit it to Environmental Health & Safety no later than 7 business days prior to your event.
- Have a completed copy available at the event and displayed
*Please note that it may also be necessary to obtain a Temporary Food Service Permit from the Brazos County Health Department. Environmental Health & Safety will help you determine if a Temporary Health Permit is required. More information regarding Temporary Food Service Permits can be found here: http://www.brazoshealth.org/EHS/tempevent.php.
The information covering food preparation and handling guidelines and requirements, please see http://ehsd.tamu.edu/documents/FoodSafety/TempFoodGuidelinesAndRequest2.doc.
Alcohol at Events
Student Rule Appendix VIII lists the procedures for student organizations hosting events where alcohol is present. The most important policies are listed briefly below; for a detailed list of procedures for having alcohol at your events,please see http://student-rules.tamu.edu/append8.
- The possession, sale, use or consumption of alcoholic beverages in public areas of the campus is prohibited.
- No alcoholic beverage may be purchased with an organization's funds.
- Events involving the presence of alcohol must be closed events with a set guest list.
- No members shall purchase for, serve to, or sell alcohol beverages to any minor, and the organization must take precautions to prevent underage serving of alcohol.
- Organizations cannot enter into co-sponsorship agreements with an alcohol distributor, charitable organization, or tavern for events with alcohol.
- Membership recruitment and new member activities must be alcohol-free.
- Organizations cannot encourage "drinking contests" or other activities involving rapid consumption of alcohol, and non-alcoholic beverages and non-salty foods must be available as prominently as the alcohol.
- Advertising for the event must not convey that consumption of alcohol is the purpose or reason for the event, promote that alcohol is a solution to personal or academic problems, or refer to the amount/quantity of alcohol.
For more detailed information about how to host a student organization event where alcohol is present, please see http://studentactivities.tamu.edu/risk/eventplanning/alcohol
Gambling at Events
Your organization may wish to host a social or fundraising event involving gambling-related activities. It is important to ensure that these activities fall within legal boundaries to protect your organization and the university. The state of Texas has stringent laws about gambling. We encourage you to consult with a list of legal opinions set forth by the Attorney General of Texas over the last two decades. Here are some tips on planning an event involving gambling:
- Participants cannot be awarded any "thing of value" based on their playing ability or skill. Auctions or door prizes are good suggestions in place of cash prizes.
- Everyone has to have the same odds of winning games. Therefore, chips/vouchers/etc. cannot be sold; everyone must receive the same amount when entering.
- No real money can be on any table at any time.
- Entrance fees cannot be solely for casino activities. Events should be marketed as an evening of entertainment, with entrance fees covering several things (such as dinner, music, dancing, etc.).
- An event with all proceeds being donated to charity is subject to the same laws and procedures related to financial transactions and marketing.
- Several companies provide casino services and entertainment through a formal license with the state of Texas, such as Party Time Rentals in College Station (979-696-5555) and Southwest Casino Productions in Houston (713-972-1113).
We also strongly urge you to consider the ethical implications of hosting a gambling-related activity on behalf of your student organization. Even if your event is intended to raise money for a charitable organization, promoting gambling can project a negative image about your organization and the university as a whole. Gambling addiction is increasing at an alarming rate for adults aged 18-23, and endorsing gambling activities may further a destructive gambling addiction for participants that could lead to psychological and physical risks.
Student organization leaders and/or members are urged to contact the Department of Student Activities Risk Management staff prior to planning an event where gambling is to occur. This contact can be made by phone: 458-4371 or email: email@example.com.
For more detailed information about how to host a student organization event involving gambling, please see http://studentactivities.tamu.edu/risk/eventplanning/howtos#gambling
Bingo at Events
If your organization wants to play bingo where prizes of value are awarded you must do so through a licensed authorized organization. Brazos Bingo is the best organization to go through, and they are able to obtain temporary licenses to host bingo at locations other than their bingo hall. You can contact Brazos Bingo by emailing them at firstname.lastname@example.org. More information can be found at http://www.txbingo.org.
Your organization may wish to hold a raffle as a means for fundraising. It is very important to note that only two types of student organizations may conduct raffles:
- A nonprofit association organized primarily for religious purposes that has been in existence in Texas for at least 10 years
- A nonprofit organization that has existed for at least three preceding years and is exempt from federal income tax under Section 501(c), Internal Revenue Code; does not distribute any of its income to its members, officers or governing body; does not devote a substantial part of its activities to attempting to influence legislation; and does not participate in any political campaign.
The language of the law is very technical, and an unauthorized raffle is considered gambling under the Texas Penal Code. If your organization is considering holding a raffle you should check the statute to be sure it qualifies.
If your organization does qualify to host a raffle, details and restrictions can be found at https://www.oag.state.tx.us/consumer/raffle.shtml#restrictions.
For information on what policies are associated with expressive activities and freedom of expression [including but not limited to: flash mobs, protests, events with music] please see Freedom of Expression
Contracts are a binding agreement between two parties in which each gives something in return for something else. Contracts will usually include a description of the services or product, background information, contract duration, definition of terms, party obligations, operative provisions, and enforcement provisions. Student organizations are required to have their advisors review all contracts before signing with any vendors. If the contract is for a service open to the campus community, such as a speaker or performance, the student organization is also required to submit the contract to the Department of Student Activities for a contract review. This process involves multiple offices, and as such, we need your contracts at least 4-6 weeks in advance of the event.
As a recognized student organization, your organization is entitled to all of the rights and privileges associated with your recognition. While you can use the university name, symbols, and funds, you cannot formally represent the university to third parties, as your group is not an employee or designated representative to enter into binding agreements on behalf of the university. Therefore, it is recommended that you include a clause in the contract clarifying that you are entering the contract solely on behalf of the student organization. Other key issues with contracts include the final execution of contracts, agreement between parties about the terms of service, validity of the signed contract, and fairness of the contract. More information about these topics can be located at http://studentactivities.tamu.edu/risk/contracts.
Your organization may wish to purchase general liability/accident medical insurance for when coverage is required by a vendor/third party or when there are elevated levels of risk. When contemplating insurance for your organization, you should consider the events your organization sponsors, the composition of your members, and any past incidents. If your organization is affiliated with a local, national, or international organization, your chapter may have coverage under the overarching insurance policy. Consult with your representative to find more information about your options.
When planning an event that involves a third-party service, you should find out details about the insurance covering that event. Some companies should provide insurance coverage for events hosted by the student organization on campus property (such as inflatables or moonwalk companies), while others should provide insurance for events at facilities owned by the third party (such as hotels renting ballrooms for big events).
For events considered Camps and Programs for Minors, insurance is also required.
If you are considering purchasing insurance for your organization or for a specific event, please contact Ruthi Hernandez on the Student Organization Development and Administration team at (979) 458-0627.
While we do everything we can to prevent negative incidents, it is equally important to proactively plan for emergency response at student organization functions. Intentional development of a crisis response plan prior to an event or activity and educating organization members about that plan and chain of command are crucial steps for effectively managing emergency situations.
Crisis response plans should include:
- Detailed plans of action for various situations
- Attention to medical needs
- Contact information for important parties
- Crisis fact sheets or incident report forms
All event planning officers or volunteers should have copies of the crisis response plan for their reference in case of an emergency. For more information about managing crises, visit http://studentactivities.tamu.edu/risk/eventplanning/crisismanagement and/or meet with the Risk Management team.
Event Planning Resources
Hospitality & Event Services for Texas A&M University
Coordinates the reservation of all meeting and outdoor spaces on the university campus. You can also find information about zones for Expressive Activity and information about reserving production equipment at the Scheduling Office web site. A list of spaces available for reservation includes the capacity and arrangement of each area, as well as contact information for specific building proctors or department heads. For more information regarding space reservation, please visit the University Center’s website: http://uc.tamu.edu/
Texas A&M Emergency Medical Services
A campus-based emergency medical service agency that responds to medical and traumatic emergencies on the campus. University EMS offers its services to all students, faculty, and patrons on university property. University EMS can provide an ambulance, bicycle medics and/or a supervisor to your event as needed, staffed with at least two EMTs or higher on all units except for a supervisor. You should at least have the contact information for the University Police Department and Emergency Medical Services present during your events.
Texas A&M Emergency Care Team
A campus-based first-responder agency which provides medical support at a variety of events at Texas A&M University and the surrounding area. TAMECT offers its services to all students, faculty, and patrons on university property. You can employ medics to be present at your student organization events, which will be supplied with at least one state certified ECA/EMT or higher and at least one other first-responder as well as an aid-bag and other necessary medical equipment.
The Texas A&M University Police Department
UPD provides law enforcement and security services to all campus facilities in Brazos County. UPD officers can also be hired to be present at specific events, and again you should at least have their contact information handy during events and activities of the organization.
The University Environmental Health and Safety Department
Provides services that promote a healthy and safe environment for the university community. EHSD provides training in various safety issues, from general safety and fire safety to hazardous material shipping and occupational safety. Most importantly, EHSD hosts the Texas A&M University Safety Manual on its website, and we strongly encourage student organizations to familiarize themselves with the safety suggestions and requirements listed.
Texas A&M University Transportation Services
Offers numerous services to student organizations, including special parking arrangements, charter buses, transportation setup for camps and conferences, and procedures and on-campus routes for marathons and races.
Provides services for utilities, water, pest control, emergency facility repairs, and landscape on the Texas A&M campus. Student organizations work closely with the Physical Plant staff most often when reserving and utilizing campus green spaces, such as fields and parks.
Department of Dining Services
Offers catering services and other services for large group events and conferences. The Campus Catering Office is located in Room 117 of the MSC. Some campus facilities allow only Dining Services food during organizational events, including the Association of Former Students building, Reed Arena, and the Memorial Student Center Complex.