How to plan a successful event on the University of Missouri-Columbia campus.

Student Group Event Planning Guide

Getting Started

Understanding the who, where and why of the event.

Questions to Ask

  • What is the purpose of the event? Is the event consistent with the organization’s constitution and purpose?
  • What are the event goals?
  • What is the event budget?

  • Who is responsible for planning and implementing the event?
  • Who is the intended audience?
    • Anticipated attendance. This will assist you in choosing the most appropriate space on campus to host your event, since all spaces have different capacities and set-up options.
  • Does the event have any sponsors?
  • Does the event have any co-hosts?

Date and Time
Confirm the event date you have chosen does not conflict with other major or similar events going on around campus or Columbia. A few places to check:


If you plan to host your event on campus, you generally need to make a reservation. Mizzou uses two reservation systems: 25Live and EMS.

  • 25Live. 25Live is used to reserve centrally scheduled space controlled by the University of Missouri Registrar’s Office.
  • EMS. The EMS portal is where you will submit event requests and schedule space for most non-academic venues at Mizzou.
  • Reservation Access. You must be listed as the President or Vice President of your group on MU Engage to make a room reservation.

If the event is outside, do you have a rain location or inclement weather location?

Campus Policies, Permits and Approvals

  • University of Missouri System Collected Rules and Regulations 110.050, Revised August 1990
  • Policy Language
    • The use, or possession of any alcoholic beverage is prohibited on all University property, except in the President’s residence and the Chancellors’ residences, and the sale, use or possession may, by appropriate University approval be allowed in approved University Alumni Centers or Faculty Clubs or other designated facilities and for single events and reoccurring similar events in designated conference, meeting, or dining facilities provided by University food services, subject to all legal requirements.
  • Related Forms, etc.
  • Timeline
    • Recommended: 4-6 weeks prior to event
    • Required: 2 weeks prior to event

  • BPPM 6:052, Revised September 2022
  • Policy Language
    • The use of sound amplification devices in buildings, on campus, or on any site of the University, whether or not the device is owned by the University or under its control, is not allowed unless a permit for the use is obtained or there is an exception provided under this policy. This policy applies to all University pf Missouri employees, students, University affiliates, contractors, and visitors.
  • Related Forms, etc.
  • Timeline
    • Recommended: 4-6 weeks prior to event
    • Required: 10 days prior to event

Policy Language

  • If you are interested in showing a copyrighted film or movie as part of your event, you need to purchase a license for the film or movie per the Federal Copyright Act.
    • Failure to comply could result in expensive fines, and other negative consequences
  • Film Rights are needed anytime a movie is shown outside of a home.
    • The rental, Purchase or download of a movie, as well as access to a streaming subscription, does not grant the right to exhibit it publicly outside of a home, unless the screening is properly licensed.
  • If the organization will need special film equipment (screen, projector, etc.) for the showing of the film, please visit Technical Event Services.

Related Forms, etc.


  • Recommended: 4-6 weeks prior to event
  • Required: 2 weeks prior to event

Policy Language

  • If you or your organization will be serving food, you will need a Temporary Food Service Operating Permit. Please be aware the permits are only intended for “temporary” food service for a few hours on one specific date. However, if you have an event that takes place over the course of no more than three days in the same location, you can fill out one permit for the entire event. In your event description you must include food service times for each meal. If you intend to establish a more permanent daily food service, you must speak with the MU Sanitarian at 882-7018.

Related Forms, etc.


  • Recommended: 4-6 weeks prior to event
  • Required: 10 days prior to event

  • Food Truck Guidelines
  • Policy Language
    • Food trucks operating on University property are subject to routine inspections from the University Sanitarian. Food trucks must complete an application process to be authorized to operate on University property and its adjacent streets. For hours and locations please refer to each vendors website.
    • To request the use of an approved food truck or cart at your event, you must work with the reservations office, choose a vendor under contract, obtain a temporary food permit and follow all safety guidelines. Of particular note is that a food truck may not operate curbside of a road open to unrestricted vehicular traffic, nor may it operate adjacent to a fire line. See the Food Truck Request Infographic for help with the process.
  • Related Forms, etc.
  • Timeline
    • Recommended: 4-6 weeks prior to event

  • University Policy for Fundraising Activities by Student Organizations BPPM 1:090, Adopted April 2015
  • Policy Language
    • Student organizations planning fundraising activities on campus must have prior approval. Fundraising includes any income producing activity by student organizations, whether or not the activity realizes a profit.
    • Approval Process
      • Any member listed on Engage must complete and submit the Fundraising Request and Event Planning Form at least one week prior to the fundraising activity.
      • ORG reviews the application and approves, conditionally approves, or denies the request.
      • It is the responsibility of the organization to correct any deficiencies listed on the request.
      • ORG will send copies of the approved form to the organization, the building coordinator for the location the activity will be held, and any other relevant parties involved or affected by the fundraiser.
      • Occasionally, you may need approval from another office on campus. Common examples include the University Sanitarian for food sales or the Licensing Office for use of the University logo.
  • Related Forms, etc.
  • Timeline
    • Recommended: 4-6 weeks prior to event
    • Required: 1 week prior to events

  • Policy Language
    • As a student organization leader, you hold the responsibility to be informed and educated on how to protect your organization from unnecessary potential and perceived risks.
      • Risk is the uncertainty that can be either negative or positive arising out of a given set of circumstances.
      • Risk Management is the process of managing the uncertainty of exposures that affect assets and financial statements using five steps: identification, analysis, control, financing and administration.
    • Types of Risk include:
      • Facilities- Risk involving safety of the facilities and the maintenance or set-up of the facilities used by participants. Possible risks include a lack of proper set-up or clean-up for the event, safety and security issues at your location, and a lack of familiarity with the facilities and location or the disruption of university facilities.
      • Financial- Risks to budget of an event and the overall budget of the organization. Possible risks are loss of funding, poor budgeting, lack of fundraising and the opportunity for a lawsuit with financial implications.
      • Emotional- Mental health risks to those attending/participating in an event or program. Risks include hazing, lack of accessibility, discrimination, controversy or disruption of the campus, and adverse reactions.
      • Physical- Harm or injuries to the body caused by physical activity, weather, equipment, food-related illnesses, alcohol consumption, or medical emergencies.
      • Reputation- Harm to the reputation of individuals, organizations, administrators, departments and institutions. Risk can come from poor conduct or behavior at events or from events with offensive subject matter.
    • There are many ways you can protect your organization from liability, including the use of waiver forms. Waivers are just one part of a bigger risk management plan, and they don’t do any good unless you educate participants on what they are signing and why they are signing it.
    • Larger Events (100+ participants) will need to consider these risks to a greater level and more in depth Risk Management Plans
  • Related Forms, etc.
  • Timeline
    • Recommended: 2 weeks prior to event

  • Guidelines for Pets on University Property BPPM 1:075
  • Service Animals BPPM 1:076
  • Policy Language (ORG Recommendations/ Guidelines for Live Animals)
    • Non-service/support animals may be permitted on campus grounds. The following responsibilities should be followed:
      • Animals brought on campus must be under the complete control of the owner at all times and present no hazard to people or property. The wearing of a muzzle by a dog shall not be regarded as control by its owner.
      • The animal(s) should be securely confined in a cage or similar restrictive conveyance, or be secured to a leash, cord, chain, or similar direct physical control of a maximum length of six (6) feet, the other end of which is restrained by a person. If this constraint interferes with a service animal’s work or if the individual’s disability prevents using these devices the individual must maintain control of the animal through voice, signal, or other effective controls.
      • Animals must not be tethered to a stationary fixture or tree, or left unattended on campus.
      • Dogs and cats brought to campus be of current rabies vaccinations or they may be subject to removal from campus.
      • The owner of the animal is responsible for the animal’s behavior.
      • The owner of the animal is responsible for the clean-up of the animal.
      • Waste should be disposed of in an appropriate trash receptacle, not left on the grounds.
  • Timeline
    • Recommended: 4-6 weeks prior to event

  • Open Flames Guidelines
  • Policy Language
    • This process is intended to address the use of open flames on campus for items that are intended/manufactured to be burned/lit. Examples include candles, oil lamps, lanterns, barbeque grills, and some theatrical special effects. Permits will not be granted for materials which are not manufactured with the intent to be burned/lit.
    • This approval process is intended to assure the responsible person is identified, fire watch is present, elimination of fire hazard conditions (including a site visit if needed), site personnel are familiar with fire extinguishers and how to respond in fire or other emergency conditions.
    • No open flames are allowed in the Residence Halls or apartments as per Residential Life Policy.
  • Related Forms, etc.
  •  Timeline
    • Recommended: 4-6 weeks prior to event
    • Required: 10 days prior to event

  • 040 Commercial/Promotional Use of University
  • Policy Language
    • The student organization might desire to seek support of an organization or business that is not part of the University. The University realizes that other organizations and businesses can and do make an important contribution to the activities of student organizations. If the student organization wishes to pursue such avenues, the following Board of Curators Policy and guidelines must be followed:
      • The University shall not be used for commercial or promotional advertising purposes, nor will the name of the University be identified in any way with the aims, policies, programs, products or opinions of any organization or its members; but an exception may be made by the President of the University. When an exception is made, the conditions for using the name will be prescribed. 170.040 Commercial/Promotional Use of University
      • A commercial business may contribute assistance for approved student organization events or activities held on or promoted on the campus. A commercial business may not sponsor or co – sponsor activities of student organizations.
      • Limitations placed on commercial business involvement: The primary visual or auditory focus of the advertising and promotion for the program or event must be on the approved program or event (i.e., the logo, product or company name of the business must be smaller than the logo or name of the event and/or logo or name of the student organization).
    • Timeline
      • Recommended: 6-8 weeks prior to event
      • Required: 4 weeks prior to event

  • Policy Language
    • The Organization Resource Group (ORG) recommends student organizations utilizing policing or security activities, assignments, or functions for their events to make arrangements with the University of Missouri-Columbia Police Department (MUPD). It is the responsibility of the host organization to assume any related costs associated with MUPD services. Reservations must be made at least 10 business days before the event date.
  • Related Forms, etc.
  • Timeline
    • Recommended: 4-6 weeks prior to event

  • Policy Language
    • Any street closing is subject to University and City of Columbia approval. All groups wishing to close streets on or around MU’s campus must complete the Street Use Request form.
    • This request must be approved by the Office of Reservations & Events (who secures the remainder of the campus permissions), the City of Columbia Police Department and the City Manager’s Office. While this review process will begin automatically after the Street Use Request form is submitted, the organization’s event will not be approved until all entities have approved the request. You will be notified when your request is approved, or if any changes are necessary.
  • Related Forms, etc.
  • Timeline
    • Required: 90 days prior to event

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Steps and Resources

  1. Create an event on MU Engage.
  2. Student Affairs Marketing & Communications can help recognized student organizations with graphic design of banners, posters, flyers, handouts, etc. (please allow 4–6 weeks). The team also can consult with you on your digital or print advertising, social media needs, etc.
  3. Involvement Newsletter (email content to


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Risk Management

Types of Risk

These risks involve harm or injuries to the physical body. Event risk factors may include injuries from physical activity, inclement weather, equipment or materials, food related illnesses, alcohol consumption, dangerous travel conditions, medical emergencies, etc.

These risks apply to the reputation of individuals, leaders, the organization, offices/departments, as well as the University as a whole. Event risk may include poor conduct or behavior at an event or an event with offensive subject matter.

These risks pertain to the thoughts and feelings of those participating in the program or event. These risks may include hazing, lack of accessibility to the event, discrimination against participants, controversy or disruption of the campus, adverse reactions of participants, or sensitive subject matter.

Financial risks include both the budget for the specific event and the overall financial health of an organization or group, office/departments, and the university as a whole. These risks may include a lack of cost reduction where possible, poor budgeting, failing to meet fundraising goals, and the opportunity for a lawsuit with financial implications.

  • BPPM 2:037 – Bank Accounts: University-Affiliated Organizations
    • University-affiliated organizations often receive funding to support their activities. These funds must be governed by the students within the recognized group.
    • University-affiliated organizations must establish their own bank accounts to handle non-University funds. Specific organizations (i.e. divisional Student Councils, Stripes) that receive a direct allocation of activity fee funds are provided with a chartfield for these University funds.  Per directives from the Student Life department, these specific organizations cannot maintain outside bank accounts.  All other University-affiliated organizations must deposit their funds in an outside bank account.
  • Additionally, pursuant to Chancellors directives effective 07/25/2017 until further notice: Any University employee who has authority to make expenditures, transfers, or other disposition of funds in a bank or other financial account of any student organization must obtain advance written approval of the employee’s supervisor and the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs for each expenditure, transfer, or other disposition of funds from such account that the employee makes. This approval requirement does not apply to expenditures from accounts of student organizations that are executed by students alone and not by a University employee.

These risks include both the safety of the facilities used by event participants and the maintenance of the facilities used by participants. These risks may include a lack of proper set-up or clean-up for the event, safety and security issues at your location, a lack of familiarity with the facilities and location or the disruption of university facilities.

Mitigating Risk

Creating an event-specific plan is a great way to account for the types of risks that may be present at certain events. The plan may call for certain protocols (e.g., first aid stations, permits, parking procedures, or security requirements) to help manage potential risk.

Consider adding the following information on an event management plan:

  • Event Information. This would include basic information about the event including the event title, date, location, organization hosting the event, and contact information.
  • Objectives. Enter clear, concise statements of the objectives for managing the response.  Ideally, these objectives will be listed in priority order.  These objectives are for the incident response for this operational period as well as for the duration of the incident.  Include alternative and/or specific tactical objectives as applicable.
    • Objectives should follow the SMART model or a similar approach:
      • Specific – Is the wording precise and unambiguous?
      • Measurable – How will achievements be measured?
      • Action-oriented – Is an action verb used to describe expected accomplishments?
      • Realistic – Is the outcome achievable with given available resources?
      • Time-sensitive – What is the timeframe?
  • Spread the Word. You can plan for every scenario and create all of the risk management processes in the world, but if no one knows about them, they are of no use. Establishing risk management practices for your programming and events is key, but then it is important to train others on those processes. Highlight and prioritize the event risks and brief the people helping coordinate the event.

This is not a narrative on the objectives, but a discussion about where to place emphasis if there are needs to prioritize during the event.

    • Known Risks. It may be a sequence of events or order of events to address.
      1. Example: Watch out for cars before allowing participants to cross the street
      2. Example: Ensure the water has been turned off before powering up the activity
    • General Situation Awareness. This may include a weather forecast, environmental conditions, and/or a general safety message like “drink plenty of water.”
    • Safe and Proper Clothing. Wearing the proper clothes while coordinating an event can help prevent some injuries. Since various events require different protective clothing, ensuring that you are wearing clothing that is appropriate for the tasks you are performing will go a long way in keeping you safe.
      1. Example: wear closed toed shoes, safety vests, etc.
  • Incident Briefing 101
  • Organization Assignment List

Signed waivers can protect an individual and an organization from financial and legal consequences. These signed waivers can be completed by event attendees prior to participation in events with increased risk.

Confirming insurance or purchasing insurance is one way organizations can manage risk present at programming and events. The types of insurance can run the gamut depending on the type of risk and event, including foreign travel insurance, vehicle insurance, special event liability insurance, and property insurance.

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Event Wrap Up


  1. Event Debrief. Shortly after the event, schedule time to reflect on the event experience.
    • Example: Stop, Start, Continue
      • Stop. Things that didn’t work and should stop or be reimagined at future events.
      • Start. Things the organization would like to begin doing for future events.
      • Continue. Things that worked during the event and should be included in future events and activities.
  2. Survey Attendees
  3. Thank You Messages
  4. Budget Reconciliation


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