In the face of the continuing health crisis and as part of Colgate’s comprehensive, multi-layered plan to allow for in-person education, the University has adopted new policies and protocols to help ensure safety. These include guidelines and precautions related to events, meetings, and all other in-person gatherings.

Guidelines for In-Person Gatherings

Whether we gather for academic purposes, or social ones, the following guidelines for in-person gatherings are in place. These guidelines include:

  • When possible, avoid meeting people in person by continuing virtual meetings.
  • Attendees must wear face coverings that completely cover their mouth and nose at all times, in both indoor and outdoor spaces, and attendees must maintain physical distance of at least six feet at all times. Attendees should keep in mind that whenever two people spend time within six feet of one another for more than ten minutes, they are considered “close contacts” and would need to quarantine if either of them tests positive.
  • Limit overall expenditures in accordance with the financial expectations detailed in the General Operations Policies.
  • Organizers are asked to register all in-person gatherings of ten or more people at least one week in advance and all-in person gatherings of fifty or more people at least two weeks in advance. 
  • After registering, organizers will need to:
  • Student organizations will no longer be allowed to reserve spaces directly. Staff members will be required to reserve spaces on EMS for student gatherings.

To protect alumni, parents, and friends of the University, off-campus gatherings are expected to follow the same guidelines as on-campus gatherings. When possible, alternative formats or postponement of such events should be considered. Organizers of off-campus gatherings should contact the Event Safety Group for a review of their gathering.

Event Safety Group

Anticipating numerous questions from staff charged with planning events, organizing information sessions, setting up meetings, etc., the University has created an Event Safety Group. Membership includes existing event planning staff in the Center for Leadership and Student Involvement, Conference Services and Summer Programs, Department of Theater, the Facilities Department, Fraternity and Sorority Advising, the Physical Education, Recreation and Athletics (PERA) Division, and University Events, who will be trained on best practices for safely conducting various types of gatherings.

Representatives from the Event Safety Group will meet with the EOC regularly to review any changes to CDC or New York State guidelines, to make recommendations for policies and procedures for any additional issues that they foresee and to ask the EOC staff to provide policies or clarifications for any issues that they encounter.

Gathering Safety Checklist

The Event Safety Group will help confirm that gatherings adhere to NYS guidelines and requirements, University policies, and the current 'Gate. They can also help provide advice on current best health practices and strategies for working within guidelines.

Gathering Details

  • Even when in-person socializing is permissible based on current guidelines, gatherings organized and/or sponsored by the university should continue to offer virtual options when possible both to reduce in-person attendance and to ensure that students who are not comfortable or not able to meet in person can still participate. Eliminate or modify gatherings that would require in-person contact. Meetings with students, including office hours, should be conducted remotely when feasible.
  • Due to the need for physical distance between individuals and the prohibition of large social gatherings, no social hosting or parties will be approved for the duration of the fall 2020 term.
  • In-person performances are not permitted in NYS Phase IV regions. Pre-recorded and virtual performances are acceptable.
  • Indoor film screenings are permitted under the following conditions:
    1. The venue must have a MERV-13 or greater filtration rating, or we must have documentation saying that additional ventilation and filtration measures (increasing ventilation rates, increasing the percentage of outdoor air, reducing recirculation, ensuring existing filters have a good fit / seal, using portable HEPA units, etc.) have been taken;
    2. Attendance cannot exceed 25% of the venue’s standard capacity; and;
    3. Food and drink are not permitted at indoor film screenings.
  • Confirm that the organizer has reserved a space large enough for attendees to practice physical distancing given the nature of the gathering and the space configuration. Regardless of the space, social gatherings are only permitted for 50 or fewer people, including staff and vendors, in NYS Phase IV regions.
  • Record a list of attendees for all gatherings due to the potential need for contact tracing. For larger gatherings, use a ticketing system to confirm attendance in anticipation of changing governmental restrictions on large gatherings and the need to notify attendees about guidelines and recommendations. Consider assigned seating to confirm attendance limits and to avoid guests switching seats and increasing exposures after breaks.

EMS Reservations

  • Reserve sufficient time for cleaning and disinfecting immediately before and after the gathering. Setup and cleanup time should also include sufficient time for delivery and removal of rentals, decorations, etc. The Event Safety Group contact will request guidance from Facilities on evening and weekend gatherings as necessary to ensure that Facilities will be able to schedule someone to clean during the time reserved.

Attendees and Travel

  • Do not bring speakers, musicians, performers, etc. to campus, and allow participants to participate virtually when possible. By reducing travel, we will also reduce expenses and potential exposures.
  • Avoid hosting gatherings that are open to in-person participants from outside the Colgate community, including students from other universities.
  • The University is suspending rental of its spaces by outside individuals and groups until further notice.

Service Requests and Finances

  • Submit a work order for cleaning and disinfecting before and after the gathering and ensure that their budgets are sufficient to pay for extra custodial costs, hand sanitizers, etc. because these costs will be passed on to the organizer. Additionally, organizers may need to develop a plan (including the request for additional cleaning and disinfection supplies) to clean common areas and surfaces before and after the gathering and/or multiple times during the gathering, because Facilities will not always be available to provide event support.
  • Avoid deliveries when possible and specify times when it’s not possible.
  • Order PPE and/or cleaning supplies through the PPE and Cleaning Supply Order Form, specifying that the materials should be delivered to your office, not to the location of the gathering.
  • Work orders, ITS service requests, and PPE and cleaning supply orders must be submitted at least one week in advance.


  • Offices and departments may not spend operating budgets on food until further notice. For example, employees should not host any business lunches or plan any events around meals. Budgetary approval for food at gatherings may only be granted under the following circumstances:
    1. The Office of the Chaplains may use their office’s budget for food during religious observances they oversee when food is a religious obligation or requirement;
    2. Student organizations may apply to use student activities fees for gatherings that include food through the Student Government Association (SGA)’s Budget Allocations Committee (BAC);
    3. Faculty leaders in the Commons may use their dedicated funding for food for gatherings where food is essential to the nature of the gathering.
  • Gatherings that receive budgetary approval must also adhere to the specific health and safety guidelines listed here.




Regardless of the space, catering services are subject to the non-essential gathering limit of 50 or fewer people, including staff and vendors, in NYS Phase IV regions.


Each table must be at least six feet away from any other table, and the total capacity of the space cannot exceed 50% of the standard capacity. For tents, provide 30 square feet per person instead of the usual fifteen square feet per person. Individuals seated at the same table must be members of the same party (but may be from different households), with a maximum of ten people per table.

Food Production

Anyone preparing food must maintain physical distancing in kitchens whenever possible. Additionally, they must wear masks and gloves, and they should wash their hands and change their gloves every thirty minutes. Equipment must be regularly cleaned and disinfected, and kitchen equipment (e.g., knives, pots, rags/towels) should not be shared.

Service Experience / Meals

Meals must be served by an attendant (including buffets) or pre-ordered and individually portioned into disposable containers (including pre-packaged meals delivered to attendees in advance of a virtual event). Attendees cannot share food (no bread for a table, no water pitchers left on the table, no candy dishes, etc.); attendees cannot touch common objects (serving spoons, tongs, etc.); and attendees cannot serve themselves (no self-serve buffets).

Beverages and Condiments

Beverages must be served by an attendant or individually packaged. Condiments provided directly to attendees must be in single-use disposable containers.

Dinnerware and Linens

Caterers may use either dishware or disposables; however, caterers must wear gloves while handling dishware and must remove the dishware at the end of the meal to sanitize off-campus. For pre-ordered, individually-portioned meals, caterers can only provide disposable dinnerware and wrapped cutlery. For easier sanitation, caterers cannot place linens on the tables. Rentals should be picked up within twelve hours of the end of the meal.

Sanitation Controls

Tables and chairs must be sanitized before and after the gathering. Attendees must wear masks unless they are seated and eating, including while they are standing in lines. The caterer must provide chafer and platter dome covers, as well as hand sanitizer. Servers must wear masks and gloves, and they should wash their hands and change their gloves every thirty minutes. If possible, caterers should use breath guards or plexiglass barriers in addition to masks. Garbage must be placed in dumpsters or covered garbage cans immediately after the end of the meal.


All staff should complete a wellness check, including self-reporting illnesses and checking temperatures. 



Supervision, Accountability, and Liability

  • Students and employees are not required to sign a waiver before attending most campus events.
  • Staff presence throughout the entirety of an event is not a requirement.

The Event Safety Group will stay up-to-date on current governmental and public health guidelines as well as best practices at other institutions to provide support to organizers. The group will meet regularly to review current guidelines, address any issues that develop, and confirm policies for anticipated issues. Members of the Event Safety Group who are also members of the EOC will report outstanding issues to the EOC as needed, including forming breakout groups within the EOC when necessary.

Additional Information

  1. When EMS schedulers receive reservation requests for gatherings of ten or more people, they will first confirm that the gathering adheres to any relevant facility guidelines. If so, they will change the reservation status to pending ESG, which will automatically notify a member of the Event Safety Group.
    1. When EMS schedulers receive reservation requests for gatherings of fewer than ten people, they will first confirm that the gathering adheres to any relevant facility guidelines and that the space is large enough for the gathering (based on the physical distancing capacity). If so, they may change the reservation status directly to confirmed.
  2. The Event Safety Group will determine who will be the contact for the reservation request.
    1. First, the Event Safety Group will consider the space:
      1. Residential spaces ---> Event Safety Group representative(s) from Residential Life and/or Fraternity and Sorority Advising
      2. Athletic, recreational, and/or outdoor educational spaces ---> representative(s) from PERA
    2. If the request is for a non-residential and non-athletic space, they then check the host organization:
      1. Student organization ---> representative(s) from CLSI and/or Fraternity and Sorority Advising
      2. Employee department or office ---> representative(s) from Conference Services and Summer Programs and/or University Events
      3. External organizer ---> representative(s) from Conference Services and Summer Programs
  3. The Event Safety Group contact will add the initial information to this Event Safety Group spreadsheet.
  4. The Event Safety Group contact will reach out to the organizer and go through the gathering safety checklist (see below) to ensure that they have considered various concerns and are taking appropriate steps to promote health and safety. They will record the organizer’s answers in the Event Safety Group spreadsheet.
  5. Once the Event Safety Group contact confirms that the organizer has addressed all safeguards and updated guidance from the State of NY, they will change the reservation status accordingly:
    1. If the gathering addresses all concerns related to current guidelines and policies, a member of the Event Safety Group will change the reservation’s status to confirmed. The Event Safety Group contact will send the organizer a summary of the current guidelines and best practices, including more detailed expectations for cleaning and sanitizing spaces.
    2. If the gathering hasn’t yet addressed all issues related to current guidelines and policies but is expected to, a member of the Event Safety Group will change the reservation’s status to tentative, preventing any other reservation from taking the space. The Event Safety Group contact will set a reminder for themselves to follow up with the organizer at an appropriate time to confirm that all concerns are addressed, at which time a member of the Event Safety Group can change the status to confirmed.
    3. If the gathering cannot address all concerns related to current guidelines and policies, the Event Safety Group contact will notify the organizer, cite the specific concern(s), and inform them of the need to cancel any requests that they’ve already submitted (work orders, purchase orders, catering requests, etc.). A member of the Event Safety Group will change the reservation’s status to canceled.
      1. If the organizer disagrees, the Event Safety Group contact will review the request with EOC representatives during the next Event Safety Group meeting. In this case, a member of the Event Safety Group should change the reservation’s status to tentative, pending that meeting.
  6. In some cases, the organizer will have to alter the date or location of a gathering after approval. In those cases, the EMS scheduler can approve the change, provided that the new time still includes the same setup and cleanup windows and that the new location is still large enough for physical distancing. The EMS scheduler should notify the Event Safety Group contact so that they can update the Event Safety Group spreadsheet.
  7. If guidelines change, the Event Safety Group will review previously-approved upcoming reservations and notify the organizers of the change, as necessary. If the organizers can no longer comply with the new guidelines, the Event Safety Group contact will inform them that they will have to postpone, cancel, or switch to a virtual format. The Event Safety Group contact will then notify the EMS scheduler as necessary

To support new event management processes and procedures and to facilitate data collection on space utilization, we will make several changes to the Event Management System. Whenever possible, we will try to design these changes such that they will support the University indefinitely and not solely during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Additional venues and rooms: We propose that every classroom, laboratory, event space, meeting room, study room, conference room, etc. is added to EMS and that reservations for any University space be made solely through EMS. (Note: This would not apply to offices, bedrooms, closets, or permanent storage spaces.) This would mean that offices that currently track reservations for private conference rooms through Google Calendar, spreadsheets, notepads, etc. would have to transfer that information onto EMS.
  • Room capacities: We will add “physical distancing” capacities for every room, indicating how many people can use a room while maintaining six feet of separation between each person. We will also upload visual aids for the physical distancing capacities, and we could also take this opportunity to create floor plans for standard setup types in anticipation of restrictions easing in the future.
  • Setup and cleanup times: We have set the standard setup and cleanup times for all reservations to five minutes each, creating buffers between reservations for cleaning and sanitizing.
  • Booking restrictions: We will require organizers to register all in-person gatherings of ten or more people at least one week in advance and all-in person gatherings of fifty or more people at least two weeks in advance.
  • Notifications: We will add a link to the EMS homepage to the gathering guidelines, and we will add language to the EMS homepage explaining the physical distancing capacities and guidelines. We are looking into the possibility of pop-up notifications for large venues within EMS as well.
  • Limiting student access: We will require student organizations to work through their advisor to reserve spaces for events and meetings. (Individual students would still be able to reserve library study rooms and other areas that don’t require scheduler approval.)

Ensure all contracts specify cancellation terms due to the actual, anticipated, or potential impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. No forward-looking contract should involve significant cash outlays that cannot be pulled back with minimal impact to the University.

Prioritize inviting guests that minimize the risk of disruption. This is a good year to feature Colgate’s faculty (utilize as much in-house talent as possible).

Unless the event is funded from discretionary restricted sources, upfront fees/commitments to guests should be minimized if not eliminated until further notice.

The Colgate Calendar is more important than ever in providing the community with information about upcoming events. When submitting new virtual events to the calendar, please use the following best practices to ensure your events are displayed correctly:

  • Select Webinar/Virtual Event in the Event Format field
  • Include a link for event registration — do not publicly share the link for your virtual meeting, as it greatly increases the risk of Zoombombing.
  • Indicate that the event is virtual by including "Virtual" or "Webinar" in the event title.