Risk Management for Student Organizations


Student organizations must provide access to their programs and activities for qualified students and other participants with accessibility needs.

Alcoholic Beverages

Organization funds maintained in the BOSO office cannot be utilized to buy, sell, or provide alcohol and tobacco products on or off campus, nor can these be items served/provided in any University student residence unit. Conversely, approval may be sought from the Executive Vice President and Treasurer (or designee) to have alcoholic beverages served at on-campus organizational functions in areas designated by the University and under the supervision of the Purdue Memorial Union (PMU) of the Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management (HTM). This is subject to compliance with all University regulations, and applicable Indiana state laws.

Amplified Sound

Organization activities must not interfere with academic programs or other scheduled functions of the University.


Sometimes animals are brought onto campus as part of organized events and activities. Below are some things to keep in mind during the brainstorming process:

• Individuals and members of organizations should refrain from bringing their own animals/pets.
• Student organizations should work with reputable, outside organizations that have experience with campus events involving animals.
• Outside organizations offering this service must provide proof of at least $1M of general liability insurance (see Certificate of Insurance (COI)).
• Student organizations must provide a full list of animals/breeds they would like to bring on campus in advance for review Risk Management. Additionally, they must describe how participants of their program will interact with the animals. Risk Management will make determinations on what animals/breeds are acceptable for the event and those that are not permitted on campus.
• Constant supervision of animals should always take place during an event.

It is important that groups make inquiries about bringing animals on campus to the SAO Staff (494-1231) and/or Risk Management (494-7695) prior to working with any outside organization or publicizing the event/activity.

Certificate of Insurance Information

A liability policy covering the activities of student organizations is carried under the direct management of the University, and finances regarding this policy are under the jurisdiction of the BOSO office (specific details of this coverage may be obtained from this office).

A COI is an official document issued by an insurer or broker that demonstrates proof of insurance for an organization or business. It is also provided by the University’s insurance company to parties outside of Purdue pertaining to an event or activity. The creation of this document (if requested) usually culminates as a result of a contractual relationship.

If a student organization is sponsoring or participating in an official Purdue University off-campus activity (i.e. utilizing a building location for a meeting or dance, having an informational booth at a festival, taking a group of students on a site visit), they may be asked to provide proof of insurance for any liability resulting from the group’s actions (i.e. injury to, or damage to property of, a third party). This is a common request and enables the premises owner to establish that the organization has liability coverage which would respond in the event of a loss. A certificate of insurance only needs to be issued when one is requested by the premises owner.

Should an outside vendor require a COI FROM THE UNIVERSITY:

• The student organization must submit an online event form on BoilerLink.
• Secure an electronic copy of the contract or agreement requiring the COI. NOTE: A copy of the contract may be requested prior to issuance.
• Complete the RM02 form (Request for Certificate of Insurance) Online
• Follow the directions on the RMO2; email it and the contract/agreement to lehigh@purdue.edu

Questions or problems regarding this process should be addressed to: 765-494-7695

If a student organization is sponsoring or participating in an official Purdue University on campus activity where there are plans to rent equipment (i.e. inflatable devices, rock walls, bounce houses, dunk tanks), or services provided to the organization are contract based (i.e. speakers, performers, displays, or interactive equipment setup), the University requires verification of the vendor’s insurance before considering and approving these events.

Should the University require a COI FROM A VENDOR:

• The student organization must submit an online event form on BoilerLink.
• Secure an electronic copy of the contract or agreement requiring the COI. Student organizations are not allowed to sign contracts on behalf of their organization or the University.
• The COI must document general liability coverage in the amount of at least $1 million per occurrence.
• The COI must list/be issued to the “Trustees of Purdue University” and the sponsoring organization (this information is usually provided in the lower, left hand corner of the document).
• In order to see a sample copy of a COI, go to the Documents section Campus Life profile on the BoilerLink website and reference Sample COI.
• The SAO office has a list of current COI’s on file for some vendors. Reference the Current COI Vendor List in the Documents tab of the BoilerLink website.


All student organizations are expected and required to abide by the rules and regulations of Purdue University, and the laws of the state of Indiana and of the United States of America. Additionally, groups are expected to conduct themselves in accordance with accepted standards of social behavior, to respect the rights of others, and to refrain from any conduct that tends to obstruct the work of the University of to be injurious to the welfare and reputation of the University. Any student organization (or individuals of student organizations) violating general standards of conduct may be subject to administrative actions.


Many student organizations aspire to have a concert on the West Lafayette campus. Although they are fun, there is a lot of advanced logistical planning and detail that should be considered before undertaking this huge responsibility. Additionally, there are certain guidelines and University regulations that must be followed in order for a concert to take place. Furthermore, groups are required to have consultations with the Campus Safety Panel Committee to discuss the event in detail, and to receive feedback and recommendations before a concert is fully approved.


A contract is required for any service, performance, or production that is to be paid through University funds (i.e. musical artists, DJs, speakers, inflatable services). University funds may consist of: student organization funds, grants, state or university funds (or a combination of all). Contracts must be reviewed and approved by the Purdue University Contracting Group (PUCG). Representation for certain forms of entertainment may submit a contract to be reviewed and approved, or PUCG may develop a contract for the performance/service provided. All contract information is required to be submitted to BOSO for assessment and processing. Student organizations and members acting on behalf of student organizations are prohibited from signing any contractual agreement. Longer planning time may be required by PUCG to review and create a contract for an event.

Copyrights, Trademarks, and Licenses

Organizations interested in creating Purdue branded items for their events should reference the Marketing and Media website (accessed via the “Toolkit” tab) to view the trademarks and licensing guidelines. You may contact them at 494-2034.

Date Auctions

Purdue University is committed to maintaining a community which recognizes and values the inherent worth and dignity of every person. The university fosters tolerance, sensitivity, understanding, and mutual respect among its members, and encourages each individual to strive to reach his or her own potential. SAO would like student organizations to keep this reflective statement in mind when considering a date auction as a form of fundraising. We encourage organizations to find alternate methods to raise philanthropy funds. Nonetheless, if an organization wants to move forward with a date auction, they should keep some thoughts and guidelines in mind.


Many groups aspire to have themed parties and events in residence halls, on-campus buildings, and Greek/Cooperative housing units that incorporate the use of festive decorations. Groups should review the approved decorating guidelines that ensure compliance with life safety codes and regulations.

Demonstrations (assemblies, marching, picketing, rallies, parades, protests, vigils)

Free speech, free expression, and peaceable assembly are protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States. Academic progress and academic freedom flourish when a University guards these rights; the educational process itself relies on the free exchange of ideas and opinions among members of the University community. Student organizations are free to examine and discuss all questions of interest to them and to express opinions publicly and privately. They are always free to support causes by orderly means that do not disrupt the regular and essential operation of Purdue University. At the same time, it should be made clear to the academic and the larger community that in their public expressions or demonstrations, students and student organizations speak only for themselves.

Conversely, the University must ensure that the educational process, as well as University functions and activities, are not disrupted or interrupted. University regulations prohibit obstruction or disruption of any University activity or inciting, aiding, or encouraging other persons to engage in such conduct. The responsibility to secure and respect general conditions conducive to the freedom to learn is shared by all members of the academic community. The University accepts its duty to develop policies and procedures that safeguard this freedom.

Emergency Preparedness (outdoor events, inclement weather, life safety procedures)

During the planning stages of an event—especially if the event is outdoors and has an estimated attendance of 200+ attendance—student organizations should consider areas such as security, weather, fire safety, and potential risks. Events of this nature require a Special Event Emergency Planning Checklist. Page one of the checklist is required to be completed, while the remaining pages must be reviewed to ensure organizations understand what steps to take in case of an emergency or inclement weather.

Although the completed checklist does NOT have to be submitted back to SAO or PUPD, it must be physically on site for the duration of an event (if the event is more than one day, it must be on site each day), and presented to campus safety officials or other pertinent University staff upon request. Failure to have the completed checklist on site could result in the immediate cancellation of the event.

Food at Public Events

Organizations planning to have self-prepared food are required to fill out a Student Event Temporary Food Application at least seven days prior to the event date, as well as set up a meeting with Radiological and Environmental Management (REM) to discuss the proposed menu. NOTE: Event/Activity forms must still be submitted online to BoilerLink at least two weeks in advance.

Certain foods—especially if they are potentially hazardous—require the presence of a certified ServSafe food handler to be on site for preparations and distribution. REM can provide information on where organization members can receive training and take the examination. REM and the University do not provide this service on-campus. There is an out-of-pocket cost to obtain the certification. If organizations have current members who are certified, or a certified food handler that is willing to be on site and responsible for ensuring preparation and distribution compliance guidelines during the proposed event, the name and copy of that individual’s certification must be uploaded with the submitted online activity form. If a certified food handler cannot be obtained, organizations should modify their menu.

Potentially hazardous foods include/contain the following:

• cream pies
• eggs
• garlic oil mixtures
• meat
• pasta
• potatoes
• raw seed sprouts
• rice
• sliced melons

At Members-Only Events

If an organization plans to have self-prepared food for members and their immediate families ONLY, a food application and meeting with REM is not necessary. However, guidelines for proper food handling must be followed.

NOTE: Eating contests are strictly prohibited from taking place on or off campus for student organization events and activities.


Hazing forces or requires another person, regardless of that person’s consent, to perform an act that:

• Creates a substantial risk of physical harm
• Substantially or seriously demeans or degrades any person; or
• Interferes with any person’s scholastic activities

Hazing is prohibited by Purdue University (on or off campus) and certain forms are considered criminal offenses. Any allegation against a student organization will be thoroughly investigated by the University, regardless of civil or criminal action taking place. In addition to action taken against a student organization, the University may take action against individual students for hazing. Any person involved with or witnessing a hazing activity is strongly encouraged to report the incident to ODOS. All student organizations are responsible for informing new members (pledges), affiliates, initiated members, and guests of this policy.

Inflatables (bounce houses, climbing walls, slides, dunk tanks, etc.)

Inflatables carry a great deal of risk, especially if they are not maintained and supervised by reputable vendors. It is imperative for student organizations to take safety measures into consideration:

• Organization’s reserve (and are approved for) locations where there is ample space.
• Inflatables should be rented from vendors who are members of the Safe Inflatable Trainer’s Organization (SIOTO).
• Vendors and organizations should ensure safe practices for event attendees by:
o having all participants read/sign the hold harmless waiver
o having the special event emergency planning checklist on site in case announcements have to be made about inclement weather
o explaining the rules and risks involved in the activity

The BOSO office will review the vendor’s contract, and Risk Management will review the COI to confirm language that clearly defines the responsibilities of the organization and the vendor in regards to set-up, maintenance, and supervision.


Purdue University is committed to maintaining a community which recognizes and values the inherent worth and dignity of every person; fosters tolerance, sensitivity, understanding, and mutual respect among its members; and encourages each individual to strive to reach his or her own potential. In pursuit of its goal of academic excellence, the University seeks to develop and nurture diversity. The University believes that diversity among its many members strengthens the institution, stimulates creativity, promotes the exchange of ideas, and enriches campus life.

Purdue University prohibits discrimination against any member of the University community on the basis of race, religion, color, sex, age, national origin or ancestry, genetic information, marital status, parental status, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, disability, or status as a veteran. The University will conduct its programs, services and activities consistent with applicable federal, state and local laws, regulations and orders and in conformance with the procedures and limitations as set forth in Purdue’s Equal Opportunity, Equal Access and Affirmative Action policy which provides specific contractual rights and remedies. Additionally, the University promotes the full realization of equal employment opportunity for women, minorities, persons with disabilities and veterans through its affirmative action program.

Any question of interpretation regarding this statement shall be referred to the Vice President for Ethics and Compliance for final determination. To report an incident of hate or bias, visit Not in Our House.

Non-Purdue Student Participation

There may be times where non-Purdue individuals would like to participate/volunteer in your events with or on behalf of the organization. If these individuals are:

• interacting with minors: their names must be included on the z-law list that is submitted, and noted as being a non-Purdue student.
• traveling with the organization: they are not permitted to serve as a driver in any capacity (whether in a University vehicle, or driving with Purdue students as passengers); they must abide by all University guidelines regarding travel and conduct for student organizations; they will need to sign a hold harmless waiver; they will need to complete an Extended Travel Packet like a regular member will complete.

Public Viewings (movies, films, webinars, streaming)

Under federal law, the holder of a copyright for a movie has the exclusive right to control performances of that movie – including showings of a videotape or digital copy. An individual student, staff person, faculty member, or student organization that wants to show a film on campus must obtain permission for the showing from the copyright holder. Pre-recorded home videocassettes and DVDs that are available for personal rental or retail purchase provide the renter or buyer the right to exhibit the movie for home use only, and these movies cannot be shown in campus public spaces without first obtaining the film rights for public showings.

Even personally owned copies and “home use” versions of films obtained from video retailers are not cleared for public performance use because proper licensing fees to the copyright owners have not been paid for such use. The complete law on film copyrights is in the U.S. Copyright code, title 17, and may be found at www.copyright.gov/title17.

Below are the guidelines to keep in mind for public viewings on campus:

• Student organizations may show a movie to its members only without purchasing a public viewing license.
• If an organization wishes to show a movie to non-members (the public), they are required to purchase a public viewing license (if available) in order to do so.
• To determine if a license is required for the film, refer to the list of vendors below to search for the film. This could take several days to several weeks to obtain, so please plan accordingly. Fees for licenses can range from $300-600 for a single day showing.
• Some films come with an educational license that grants groups permission to show the film to educate the audience about particular topics. Documentation must be provided stating that there are no fees attached to the film before the event can be approved. This could take several weeks to obtain, so please plan accordingly.

Criterion Pictures USA Non-theatrical film licensing
Films for the Humanities Educational Videos/Multimedia
First Run/Icarus Films Independent film licensing
Kino International Independent film licensing
Motion Picture Licensing Corp. Umbrella Licensing
Motion Picture, TV & Theater Film TV & Theatrical Production
Swank Motion Pictures Non-theatrical film licensing
Zeitgeist Films (Foreign) Independent film licensing

Recreational Fire

From time to time, student organizations may aspire to have traditional/spirit events that include the utilization of fire. Organizations are permitted to have a recreational fire (as opposed to a bonfire) on the West Lafayette campus, which is completely enclosed in a commercially manufactured outdoor fire pit appliance.

Risk Management Matrix

The Risk Management Matrix was developed to serve as an educational tool for organizations to identify potential risk issues associated with planning large scale and high-risk activities, and as a supplement for discussion amongst members of safety practices to utilize for these events. Depending on your event, the matrix may be required to be completed and submitted for review along with the EPF.

Road Races (5K, Fun Runs, etc.)

Pre-event planning is essential to a successful road race. Depending on the size and scope of a road race, a meeting may be scheduled by the Safety and Compliance administrator with campus safety departments and the organization to assess the specific logistics for the event. A road race checklist serves as a guide for groups to think about during their planning process. An EPF should be submitted online well in advance of the event date to allow for processing and review by pertinent campus and safety departments.

Scavenger Hunts (amazing race style events)

Scavenger hunts have value, if properly conducted as educational experiences. Staff members and student organizations should adhere to the recommendations below. However, organizations need to ensure that activities of this nature are safe and useful for students who participate in them.

Scavenger hunts must ensure positive experiences for the students involved, save resources, be safe, enhance participants’ learning, and cast Purdue University in a positive light. Scavenger hunts that are not within these recommendations may violate University policies on hazing. Groups whose parent organizations (i.e. national sorority or fraternity) ban or discourage scavenger hunts may not have them at all.


Student organizations anticipating a substantial turnout at their event (200+ participants) may be contacted by PUPD and required to supply additional security services (depending on the type, location, time of event). If this is the case, a work order for police support will need to be submitted by the organization to the BOSO office). NOTE: Additional security services are provided for a fee. All decisions regarding security detail are solely at the discretion of PUPD in conjunction with SAO and BOSO.

Simulated/Facsimile Weapons and Firearms

Any use of simulated/facsimile weapons and firearms for student organization events must follow specific guidelines. PUPD, SAO and/or the University can impose reasonable limits on time, manner, and place involving the utilization simulated/facsimile weapons at any point during an event. All student organizations and participants in their activities are expected to comply.


Because skydiving is considered an extremely high risk activity, there are specific guidelines that must be adhered to for groups than want to plan an event of this nature:

• Student organizations are permitted to schedule/reserve time with a skydiving facility.
• Organizations cannot sponsor or pay for any participant fee(s), or collect money from participants for a “lump sum” payment towards any fee(s) associated with the activity.
• Money can be collected from participants to cover transportation costs (if applicable).
• Participants are individually responsible for covering the cost of all fees associated with the event.
• A detailed hold harmless waiver—which differs from the standard waiver— is required to be signed by all participants.

Contact the SAO Staff (494-1231) for more information regarding skydiving activities.

Smashes (car, computer)

Student interested in having a car or computer smash must schedule a meeting with a representative from Fire Protection & Special Services (FPSS) at 494-1424 at least 2 weeks in advance to discuss guidelines, logistics, and preparations that must be made to these items prior to an event.


Smoking (i.e. cigarettes, cigars, pipes or any other device used to burn tobacco or other like substances) in enclosed University facilities or within 30 feet of a building’s entrance is prohibited on the West Lafayette campus. However, there are several designated smoking areas on campus where smoking is permissible. Student organizations should keep these guidelines in mind when deciding on a location for the general public to assemble to participate or witness their program, event, or activity.

Social Networking

Many organizations utilize social media as an avenue to keep the University community updated on events, activities, and updates. Keep in mind what is shared through social media and how that impacts the reputation of the University and those who represent it. In an effort to manage this impact, Purdue University requires that all University-Sponsored Social Media Outlets be used in accordance with this the University’s social media policy and utilize Marketing and Media’s “Guide to Social Media” to learn strategies to have an effective online presence that presents the organization in a positive light.


Student organization members who aspire to drive for their events must submit a RMO1 form. Members should plan ahead as the approval authorization process takes at least 5 business days. Vehicles that are built and/or owned by organizations that are utilized for on-campus events must be inspected and approved in advance by Tom Cooper in Fire Protection and Special Services (494-1432). In some instances, students operating the vehicle may have to sign a hold harmless waiver agreement.

Violation of policies

Members of student organizations are required to abide by the laws of the state of Indiana, the United States of America, and/or the community, state, or country in which the organization’s activities occur. Additionally, a violation of any University rules and regulations by any member of a student organization may subject that organization and/or its members to corrective action.


The hold harmless general release waiver form allows participants in Purdue sponsored events to waive, release, and hold harmless the University for damages that may be sustained during their voluntary participation in a student organization activity. A waiver should be used primarily in conjunction with recreational programs that are voluntary in nature, or in other programs that are beyond the usual educational operation of the Institution.

Completed waivers must be kept on file by the student organization for at least 2 years post event, plus 1 additional year.


Zachary’s Law was passed in 1994 in honor of Zachary Snider, a 10-year-old from Cloverdale, IN who was molested and murdered by a neighbor previously convicted of child molesting. Under this law, convicted sex offenders are required to register with the local law enforcement authority in any county where they live, work and volunteer, attend school, or own property.

Organizations that plan or attend events where minors will be present (regardless of the event taking place on or off campus) are required to submit a list of organization members along with their submitted online EPF. If non-Purdue individuals are assisting or participating on behalf of the organization, the names of these individuals must also be submitted on a Word or Excel document in alphabetical order.