Outdoor Space Policy

Text: COVID-19 Update

For the safety and health of our community, we are opening the following spaces: Furnald Plaza and Low Steps for use without reservation. Please remember that everyone is required to follow the Columbia Community Health Compact, including wearing a face covering and keeping 6 feet of distance when accessing public space on campus.

Gatherings are subject to the guidelines of New York State. To ensure that as many people as possible can have access to our open spaces, the University is not allowing student groups to book outdoor spaces during this period.

To learn more about COVID-19 policy updates, please see the Columbia University Event Policy.

Goal/Reason for Policy:

  • To ensure that the event is conducted in an orderly fashion and is considerate of the University community and its surrounding neighbors.

 

Outdoor event spaces may be booked by one group for one day under each reservation. The total number of days that one group may be able to book outdoor space is limited to 5 consecutive days

  • Timing
  • Reservable and Non-reservable Space
  • Guidelines for Use of Lawns and Hardscapes
  • Tenting
  • Catering
  • Restroom Access
  • Facilities Support
  • Tabling
Candles, Chalk & Paint

The use of candles, chalk, or paint on Morningside campus lawns, pavers, and hardscapes is prohibited.

Timing

In order to minimize the impact on University operations, the following guidelines pertain to scheduling outdoor events.

  • Hardscapes are available year-round for events.
  • Lawns are available for events as follows:
    • South Lawns and Butler Lawns: April 1 through the last day of undergraduate classes of the fall semester
    • All other reservable lawns: the first Monday following April 21 through the first Monday after October 21.
  • Outdoor space can be reserved for events and activities between 8:00 a.m. and 1:00 a.m. 

Restrictions on outdoor events:

  • Tented events are not permitted from the last day of classes through June 1 due to Commencement Week activities.
  • Outdoor events may not be held overnight.

See all available outdoor event spaces.

*The Columbia Outdoor Orientation Program is allowed to reserve and camp on the South Field Lawn in August, as part of their annual program activity.

Reservable and Nonreservable Space

Outdoor events are permitted in the following campus green spaces and hardscapes:

  • Ancell Plaza
  • Avery Plaza
  • Butler Lawn
  • College Walk
  • Dodge Plaza
  • Furnald Lawn
  • Furnald Plaza
  • Hamilton Lawn
  • Havemeyer Plaza
  • Kent Lawn
  • Kent Plaza
  • Lewisohn Lawn
  • Low Plaza
  • Math Lawn
  • Mudd Terrance
  • Philosophy Lawn
  • Pupin Plaza
  • Revson Plaza
  • Schermerhorn Plaza
  • Small Square
  • Sundial 
  • Uris Lawn East
  • Uris Lawn West
  • Uris Lawn South
  • Van Am Quad
  • Weston II Plaza
  • Wien Courtyard

Please also refer to Guidelines for Use of Lawns and Hardscapes.

The following spaces are not reservable for outdoor events:

  • St. Paul's Chapel lawns
  • Computer Science Courtyard
  • Centennial Gardens
  • Uris Lawn South
  • Uris Plaza East
Guidelines for Use of Lawns and Hardscapes

Lawn use must comply with the following guidelines:

  • The University reserves the right to relocate outdoor events as a result of heavy rain, water puddles, flooding, unanticipated wear, planned work, or emergency repairs.
  • Fields will remain closed for a minimum of 24 hours after rain occurs, and will be reopened at the discretion of the Grounds Manager. The event organizer is responsible for contacting Facilities Events Administration for information on the status of the field.  If fields are closed due to rain, the event organizer is responsible for locating alternate venues and/or planning a rain date. It is suggested that the event organizer consult with their event planner to help secure a reservable outdoor hardscape as a backup.
  • Math Lawns (ML) is separated into two areas— ML North and ML South. Only one of the two fields can be reserved each day.
  • South Lawns (SL) are separated into two areas— SL East and SL West. Only one of the two fields can be reserved each day. Exceptions are considered during Commencement Week.
  • Various lawns and hardscapes are are closed from mid April through the first week of June due to setup/breakdown of bleachers, tenting, flooring, and chairs used during graduation ceremonies, Commencement, and Reunion Weekends.
  • All lawns are restricted to passive use only (e.g. lounging). Exceptions are considered during Commencement Week and Alumni Weekend.
  • South Lawn, Hamilton and Furnald Lawn use is governed by a flag system. Flags are located at the corners of the fields; a green flag permits walking, sitting, and sports such as throwing a ball or tossing a Frisbee; a red flag prohibits all access to the field on which the flag is located.
  • Cleats are prohibited on all lawns.
  • Staging, platforms, and risers are prohibited on all lawns.
  • Nothing may be affixed to trees, bushes, or light poles (e.g. hammocks, tight ropes, etc).
  • Participation in activities destructive to the grounds is not permitted (e.g. organized sports and activities.)
  • Pools, water games, and dunk tanks are not permitted on lawns.  If special permission is granted, water activities are restricted to hardscapes, and plazas where a drain is in close proximity.
  • Sponsors scheduling events on Lawns or hardscapes are responsible for returning the space to the condition it was found. This includes the removal of fliers, equipment, and debris related to the event.  All costs related to the event (including, but not limited to security, facilities, custodial, lawn restoration, etc.), are the responsibility of the sponsor.

The following activities/items are not permitted on campus lawns or hardscapes:

  • Swinging or sitting on lawn posts or chains.
  • Using a lawn for any purpose when it has been closed by range fencing, locked gates or has a red flag posted.
  • Organized sports on any lawn.
  • Water guns, water balloons, dunk tanks, and/or wading pools in close proximity and/or on any grass surface.
  • Affixing bulletins and notices on flagpoles, lampposts, terrace/building walls and lawn posts/chains.
  • Any equipment with wheels are not permitted on lawns (e.g. carriages, bikes, strollers, catering or vending equipment with wheels).
  • Using carriages, bikes, strollers, catering or vending equipment with on lawns.
  • Camping.
  • Animals.
  • Candles.
  • The use of chalk or paint on Morningside campus lawns, pavers, and hardscapes.
  • Balloons are prohibited unless prior approval has been given from Facilities. The event sponsor must vet their request through the Event Management team.
Tenting
  • All tenting must be ordered through Columbia Facilities Events Administration.
  • Tents suitable for large events/ceremonies are the only tents permitted under this policy; camping tents and/or smaller coverings meant for individual use and not suitable for events/ceremonies are strictly prohibited.
  • The availability of lawns that may be tented is extremely limited.  It is strongly recommended that groups wishing to have a tented event consider hardscaped sites such as Low, Ancell, and Revson Plazas, which are subject to fewer facilities-related charges and maintenance costs.
  • Event decking may be required, and (flooring, covering, etc.) is left to the discretion of Facilities.
  • Following the removal of flooring from a lawn for tented events, including inflatables or games, it will be closed for a minimum of 7 days, or longer if needed, in order to allow time for lawn recovery.
  • Event planners are required to consult University Event Management to obtain clearance prior to tent installation.
  • Tents, tent flooring, staging and risers may remain on lawns for no longer than 48 hours.
  • All tents, stakes, spikes, and posts must be installed under the supervision of a Grounds staffer.
  • The event sponsor or a designated representative must be on site during installation of tents, games, and furniture setup to ensure proper placement and location.
  • Event planners are required to contact Facilities Events Administration at [email protected] to inquire about applicable regulatory permits prior to tent installation.
Catering

Event Management is the official catering provider for Outdoor Spaces. There is no cost to affiliates for use of outdoor space. However, there is a $150 administration fee for work provided to support outdoor events. This fee is waived if Event Management provides catering. Outside vendors/caterers are permitted. However, they must comply with University procedures and guidelines outlined for external catering.

Restroom Access

The event sponsor must obtain permission from the Manager or Dean of the nearest building(s) to use restrooms for the event. There may be a charge for restroom or building lobby clean up that will be billed directly from Facilities. During off-hours and weekends or holidays, restrooms in academic, residence and library buildings (with the exception of Low Library and Lerner Hall) can only be accessed by University ID card holders with building access. The event sponsor must identify which building they will be directing guests to for restroom use and submit a service request for Facilities for custodial support.

Facilities Support

All outdoor events require Grounds/Waste Management clean-up. If electric power is needed from a neighboring building or generator, or if additional preparation and/or restoration to a lawn is required for an event, additional fees may apply and are the responsibility of the Event sponsor.

For Facilities Support outside of Lerner Hall: (furniture rental, labor services for special event set-ups and breakdowns, electrical support etc.)

1. Visit the Facilities Services Request web page.

2. Click “Request a Service” and “Submit a New Request”

3. Log on using your UNI and password

4. For event services click on “Special Event Support Services.”

5. Complete the form and submit. A valid department and project number must be provided at the time the request is submitted.

Please note that online service requests must be submitted more than three business days prior to the event date. If your event date is within 3 business days from the service request, please contact the Events Administration Office at 212-854-8607 or via email at [email protected].

Tabling

Tabling is permitted in various outdoor spaces. The activity must comply with all guidelines for use of lawns and hardscapes. Tabling events may not include additional fixtures such as tents, booths or inflatables.

Guidelines for Tabling on College Walk

Tabling on College Walk must comply with the following guidelines:

  • Recognized student groups are permitted to request two tables at a time on College Walk only in designated tabling areas outlined by Event Management.