Planning an Event
Planning an event on campus begins with the group identifying goals, and then brainstorming about what activities might meet those goals. When initiating a program, keep the following questions in mind from the beginning:
- Who will sponsor the program? Will it be your group alone? Will you co-sponsor the program with an academic department or another group?
- How will the program be financed? Does your organization's budget contain enough funds, or will you need to solicit funding from other organizations or departments? Will the revenue from the program cover any costs?
- Where will the program be held? How many people do you expect? What size room do you need? Does the program fit the facility you'd like to use?
- Who is the intended audience for the program? Strictly students? The entire University community? Members of your organization or academic department?
- What University services will be needed to produce the program? Will you need food catered, maintenance, security, a sound system, printing, transportation?
- What type of publicity will be needed for this program? Who would be the audience most interested in your program? What segments of the campus or community would be attracted to your program?
When planning any event, two primary questions must be asked: How much will the program cost? How will the program be funded? The answer to these questions begins with a budget.
Whether formulating a budget for a single program or a year's activities, remember that a budget is a written guideline for your plan of action. To be effective, a budget should reflect the knowledge gained in past ventures in the area of projecting expenditures, attendance at events, or unexpected costs. In essence, writing a budget requires planning, coordination and establishing a system of management controls for the administration of your organization.
Determining where to produce a program often becomes a case of second-guessing the weather, competing with other organizations to get the same place on the same day, or, if you wait until the last minute, having to take whatever is left.
Due to the many activities on campus, getting the exact room, auditorium, or facility you need sometimes becomes difficult. One way to solve this problem is to plan early and reserve the space as soon as the program idea is set. In some cases, you may have to find out on what date(s) a facility is available before you can confirm your program plans. You will need to fill out an Events Registration Form at least three weeks in advance to reserve a facility. University Services maintains a list of meeting and event facilities that can be reserved for events.
Keep in mind the following criteria when selecting space for your program:
- Fit the facility to the program - try to objectively and honestly project the number of people you expect to attend.
- What special requirements do you have? Will you need a stage, lighting, or sound system? Do you need to have food catered? If so, is there a kitchen or serving area in the facility?
- How long will the program last? Check with the appropriate scheduling office to make sure that you know the time limits, if any, of the building in which the program is to be held. Many times contractual obligations or the time needed for an event may exceed the time that the building is available. In this case, move up the starting time of the event or try to negotiate a later closing time. If you arrange for a later closing time, check to see if you will be charged for that extra time.
- What limitations are there on the facility? Find out prior to using the facility if there are any special restrictions or regulations.
- Will alcohol be served? University regulations require organizations to follow the Alcoholic Beverage Policy determined by the Graduate School. This policy includes making provisions for preventing underage drinking and hiring proctors for events involving more than 50 people.
Student organizations are reminded that the University is bound by the Americans with Disabilities Act. As a part of Princeton University, student organizations must make every attempt to schedule events in locations accessible to persons with disabilities. Student organizations should find an accessible location on campus for their events. In specific cases where significant portions of the University community will be allowed to attend an event, the location is required to be accessible to persons with physical disabilities.
Health & Safety Issues
Some events, such as concerts and theater productions and any event needing special wiring, require that special health and safety provisions be made. The Office of Occupational Health and Safety, located at 262 Alexander St., (609) 258-5294, is available to advise students in these areas.