Plan Your Event
Planning an event can be a daunting task. How do you begin? How do you secure funding? Where will you hold your event? The information contained on this page is designed to help you address some of the key concerns when planning events.
Space Rentals and Room Reservations
Securing space on campus is one of the most important aspects of planning an event. Students and student organizations often have access to spaces, free of charge, but finding a space that fits your event can sometimes be quite challenging. Additionally, space is reserved quickly (there are a great many organizations on campus), and being diligent and timely is very important.
Virtual EMS is a fast and easy way to schedule space with The Office of the Reynolds Club & Student Activities (ORCSA) and the Office of Event Services (OES). Many of these spaces are free to use for registered student organizations, and some might have special requirements. It is important to check with the ORCSA or OES staff to ensure that you are fully aware of any charges the space rental may carry. For example, room reservation fees for space in Ida Noyes Hall are waived for student organizations, but additional charges (e.g. AV rental, building access, housekeeping staffing) are shouldered by the organization.
Consider holding the event in your department or divisional spaces. Many spaces on campus are administered at the departmental or divisional level. Contact department administrators, or assistants, to check about rental possibilities. Often, departments are happy to support student groups, regardless of the content of their event. List of academic departments.
Consider pay-to-rent spaces on campus. This option should be considered last, as it is often difficult to justify the use of paid spaces, and funding agencies on campus might not fund this piece of your budget. However, some spaces may be more ideal for your event. If you have your heart set on a pay-to-rent space, consider doing some fundraising to support it.
Raising Funds to Support Your Event
Raising funds for your event may often seem like an enormous challenge, however, there are several ways to make the process much easier. Below is some information about several funding agencies on campus.
The Student Government. As a student, you are required to contribute to the student activities fee, which supports a wide variety of campus programming. One of the main responsibilities of The University of Chicago's student government is to administer a piece of this fee to students and student organizations. There are several ways to tap into these funds. If your organization is not an RSO, consider approaching one of the many RSOs on campus to collaborate and hold your event. RSO Information.
- Student Government Finance Committee (SGFC): The SGFC is the main funding body for RSOs on campus. This body requires a short application and presentation, and is often used as a first stop for organizations.
- Graduate Council Event Funding: The Graduate Council provides funding for student organizations, regardless of RSO status, with an emphasis on graduate student events. The application is somewhat similar to SGFC's, with a somewhat different timeline.
- The Uncommon Fund: Administrator by Student Government and ORCSA the Uncommon Fund is a pool of money allocated towards interesting and creative student projects and initiatives on campus.
- Collaborate with SG to plan your event: If you believe that your event is integral to student life, and matches the mission of the Graduate Council, or SG as a whole, consider working with student representatives to plan and execute your event. For more information, or questions regarding this method, please contact Anthony Martinez, the current GC chairman.
Student Organization Catering Fund. The Student Organization Catering Fund, presented jointly by UChicago Dining and ORCSA, offers the opportunity for recognized student organizations to request catering for special events. This catering fund is a line of credit established with Aramark, UChicago Dining’s on-campus food service provider.
Graduate Innovation Grant. The Provost’s Office sponsors the Graduate Innovation Grant to facilitate student-generated programs and services that support UChicago graduate students. These grants are intended to provide seed money and administrative/logistical support for launching ideas that encourage graduate students’ academic progress, professional development, or personal growth.
Your department or division. A substantial portion of the student activities fee is directed to your division. Each division has different organizations which administer these funds (e.g. The Physical Sciences Social Committee, or BSD's Dean's Council), and more information about your localized organizations can be obtained from your Dean of Students. Additionally, small allocations can be made at the departmental level, usually if the event strongly supports that unit's goals and mission. Before approaching departmental administrators for funding, it may be in your best interest to secure seed funding from other sources.
Approaching Speakers and Other Content Providers
This may seem like a daunting task, especially if you haven't secured funding for your speaker. We suggest first contacting a speaker to figure out details including expected honoraria or travel costs, as well as to ensure that they are available to participate on your expected event date. Negotiating down the costs associated with your content provider is viewed as fundraising and can substantially increase your fundability. That being said, one might be uncomfortable negotiating with a well known speaker, and your group's advisor would likely help you navigate this issue.
Once you have secured funding for a speaker, you should contact your advisor to help you draft a third-party agreement. Since speakers and content providers are performing a service for your organization, payments to these individuals cannot be reimbursed by the University, and require direct payment from the University's financial office. Please keep in mind that University of Chicago faculty cannot be paid using student government funds.