Summer 2021 Events Policy

Editor's Note: Changes in gathering size will be phased in over three periods. Currently, there are no limits on the gathering size for academic (instructional, orientation and commencement) gatherings provided that the provisions enumerated in the June 17 letter are followed until September 9. Administrative and research gatherings are presently restricted to 500 outdoors and 250 indoors.  There will be no capacity limits after August. It is important to note that any food and beverages must be “grab and go” through September 8. For now, however, social, religious, and extra-curricular gatherings are restricted to 50 persons outdoors and 25 indoors, but only through August 2. 

Columbia follows New York State requirements and public-health guidance from Columbia experts for the size of permitted gatherings and requires all indoor and outdoor events to comply with University health policies. The following is a summary of these temporary guidelines. For more detailed information on booking events this summer, visit this Columbia Event Management policy update.

  • Follow the Health Compact guidance. Wear a face covering over your nose and mouth at all times, keep at least 6 feet (about 2 arms’ length) distance between yourself and other people whenever possible, and follow signage and guidance on use of campus spaces and buildings.
  • For the safety and health of our community, the University is opening the following spaces: South Lawn, Butler Lawn, Furnald Plaza, Van Am Quad, Low Plaza, Low Steps, College Walk, and the Sundial. These spaces will be open and accessible unless they have been reserved for an event.
  • As per New York State guidelines and guidance from Columbia experts, indoor events for non-academic purposes (including informal social gatherings) must be limited to 25 people or fewer and outdoor events for non-academic purposes (including informal social gatherings) must be limited to 50 people or fewer, both on and off campus. 
  • Student groups are not allowed to reserve outdoor spaces during this period. This is to ensure that as many people as possible can have access to our open spaces.
  • Event participation is restricted to CUID cardholders only and requires registration, and registration lists must be maintained by schools or units after events have taken place. External presenters must follow the University's Vendor Clearance Policy.
  • Where possible, events should be held outdoors or in large, well-ventilated spaces.
  • If event organizers choose to serve food or beverages, both must be packaged for individual use (e.g. box lunches) and distribution must be planned to enable physical distance at all times. Event organizers must ensure that attendees are able to maintain sufficient distance throughout and avoid facing each other while removing their face coverings to eat or drink. If individuals bring their own food or beverages, event organizers must ensure that those eating or drinking are able to avoid facing others while their face coverings are removed, if unable to maintain physical distancing.  

Event organizers are responsible for ensuring that the planning takes account of the Compact provisions and that event attendees adhere fully to the Compact’s face covering and physical distance requirements.

Student organizations must work with their advisers to ensure adherence to all other event policies.  Faculty and staff should consult with the point-person for events in their school or unit.

For Columbia University sponsored events held off campus, all of the above requirements apply. 

Individual schools may choose to have more restrictive policies than those described here.

Campus event spaces may not be reserved by or rented to external organizations or groups until further notice.


This policy will be updated as needed to reflect governmental and public health guidance.