Student Unions & Activities : University of Minnesota

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Reserving Event or Meeting Space

When your student group has identified a timeframe you would like to host your event, as well as determining back-up dates and times, you will want to determine what reservable spaces will meet your event needs. Things to consider:

  • What atmosphere is needed for your event?
  • What size room do you need?
  • What kind of tech needs do you have?
  • What have you budgeted for room and tech costs?

Large venue spaces need to be reserved (at a minimum) 4-8 weeks ahead of the event date. Make sure you are checking on space availability before you get too far into the event planning process. Most space on campus is reserved between a semester and one year in advance of an event date, so make sure your group is planning so they can reserve space as early as possible.

Student Unions and Activities offers registered student groups free and discounted rates on spaces within Coffman Memorial Union and the St. Paul Student Center on our reservations site. Both buildings offer space for:

  • Meeting rooms (small and large)
  • Lecture space
  • Performance and theater space
  • Banquet and large event space
  • Contact tables and display cases
  • Video and board games, bowling and billiards

Office of Classroom Management offers University classroom space that can be used for meetings or events that do not involve set-up, food, or decorations (for example, a lecture or panel discussion). Classroom space is free for student groups, as long as it’s used properly.

Outdoor campus space includes event space, contact tabling space, and the University’s 5K Run routes. The reservation process is submitted via an application. Groups should familiarize themselves with outdoor rules and reservable outdoor spaces as they start planning for outdoor events.

Other event venues available on campus:

Use of spaces listed above may require groups to follow the Large Campus Events protocol to involve multiple campus partners.

Please see University Venue Information for contact and space overview information for various University venues

Before you get too far...

We encourage you to review the Guidelines for Accessible Meetings and Events provided by Disability Resource Center. This will help your student group ensure it’s being as inclusive as possible for all members of its audience as well as potential members of your student group.

Check for conflicting or competing events: 

  • Have you checked on conflicting or competing events? Think about your audience and other academic or professional commitments they might have.
  • Are there other similarly themed programs taking place around the same time? Are there are other student groups who program to the same audience as your group or your event?
  • Check Student Unions and Activities events calendar (student group promotion function), the University’s Events Calendar, and the specific events, activities and programming schedules for any specific academic departments or student groups.

Working with Venue Reservations Staff

Identify point of contact from the group to reserve event space and communicate event needs. If necessary, identify who will take the lead for communicating audio/visual technical needs. Your group’s reservation event contact needs to be a listed officer from your group and will be the sole point of contact with your venue’s Event Coordination staff.

Schedule a preliminary event planning meeting with your venue’s Event Coordination staff to discuss room rates, layout and set-up; tech equipment and personnel scheduling and rates; catering/food and decoration policies; plus any need to reserve additional rehearsal, decoration or rain back-up space. This meeting will allow you to adjust your preliminary event budget as needed, as well as determine deadlines and communication plans with your venue’s Event Coordination staff. You should try to meet with Event Coordination staff at least six weeks prior to your event date.

The venue’s Event Coordination staff and your group’s event planning team have the same goal: for your group to have a successful event. If the Event Coordination staff recommends a change to your room layout or event’s schedule/agenda, it’s because they know the event space you are using. They know what kinds of events have been held there before, how traffic flow works, what room capacity is like, how much time is needed to change over tech equipment between performers or lecturers. They also know when their staff needs to have final event details in order to provide you the service you need for your event. You might need to make changes from your original event vision but the Event Coordination staff will give you feedback that is going to help you better meet your event goals.

Update your other group members and event partners on your preliminary event planning meeting. Go over any changes needed to your event so that the event planning team can make any needed adjustments within their area of responsibility. Make sure the event planning team is aware of your communication plan, timeline and deadlines that you have set with your venue’s Event Coordination staff. Set internal deadlines for communication and event planning goals, so you stay on schedule with the Event Coordinator staff.

The venue’s Event Coordination staff will send you a tentative room reservation confirmation/overview or contract for use of space and tentative room diagram based on your conversations.

Schedule your follow-up event planning meeting with the Event Coordination staff, during which you will provide your final set-up and tech needs, the schedule of your event, and submit any remaining permits or agreements. You should plan to meet at least 2-3 weeks prior to your event date.

Notify your other group members that the event logistics, room layout and tech needs have been finalized. If your group discovers they need to make an adjustment, check in with the Event Coordination staff to see if it’s possible. Changes and updates should be minimal leading up to your event.

This is where things can get off-track in the event planning process because the venue’s Event Coordination staff is planning for your event to be exactly as you have told them it will be. However, your group’s event planning team might still be finalizing details or something might change that affects your event schedule or tech requirements. Remember, the venue’s Event Coordination staff and your group’s event planning team have the same goal: for your group to have a successful event. Make sure you communicate any changes or updates to your event to the Event Coordination staff. If necessary, ask for the Event Coordination staff to resend you your event’s room reservation confirmation/overview or contract for use of space and finalized room diagram. That way, you can make sure the event your group has planned matches the event that you have communicated to the venue’s Event Coordinator.

Use of Campus Sidewalks

Sidewalks on campus are not a reservable space, however individuals are allowed to distribute information as long as they don’t set up any furniture or impede traffic flow. Per University policy, any food/beverage distribution or fundraising will need to have additional permits approved.

Contact Tables and Table Tents

Many student groups find that tabling in public spaces can be a useful way to share their message with other students. There are specific policies in regard to tabling in both Student Unions, as well as the Residence Halls/Apartments.

Student Unions 
Contact table reservations can be made online for Coffman UnionSt. Paul Student Center and outdoors. Please keep in mind:

  • Reserved tables must display the name of the organization and be staffed at all times by members of the organization that have reserved the space.
  • Use of the table must be by the student group that holds the reservation. Student groups are not allowed to sponsor other organizations.
  • Personnel must remain seated behind or standing to the side of the contact table. Solicitation in the hallways or active distribution to patrons in the hallways is prohibited.
  • Personnel from non-University vendors or companies are not allowed at the contact tables for sales-related, fundraising or commercial activity.

Table Tents are generally not allowed in the Student Unions and will be removed. Student Unions and Activities reserves the right to distribute SUA-specific table tents in the Student Unions.

Residence Halls/Apartments 
Please review policies and reservation guidelines for contact tabling and use of table tents for Residence Halls.

Not All Space Is Reservable

Particular areas throughout campus as well as within Coffman Memorial Union and the St. Paul Student Center are designated shared or public space. The following spaces within the Unions are considered shared/public and cannot be reserved by student groups, University departments or University guests:

  • The Cube
  • Fireplace lounges
  • Television seating area
  • Corridors excluding contact tables
  • Lobby spaces

Because these spaces cannot be reserved, the spaces cannot be used to conduct programs or activities.

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