Party & Large Event Hosting

Red Dance Party

The MHC Party and Large Events Policy is based on proven best practices among peer institutions and was formulated under the consultation of MHC Campus Police, Dean of The College and Dean of Students Division to respond to a growing need in our community to more uniformly, safely and consistently manage our increasingly popular and successful events on campus. This policy outlines the responsibilities & tools necessary for sponsors to comply with room capacity limits, fire-code regulations and state alcohol laws. The policy will help event sponsors regulate paid attendance to their event and will guide them in appropriately staffing the venue to maintain orderly and safe events. It is also designed to foster greater accountability among event guests, as is currently achieved by other institutions of the 5 College Consortium and many others.

Events Subject to This Policy

This policy applies to all on-campus, open to the public events including parties, dances, and large social events held in Chapin, Blanchard & any other approved campus venue.

Events that meet any one or more of the following criteria are subject to the enforcement of these policies:

  • any party, dance, or social event advertised off campus (including word of mouth, jolt, facebook or any means via the internet, etc)
  • and/or alcohol will be served at the event
  • and/or any event with an anticipated attendance of 100 or more, including lectures, private events, etc is subject to relevant portions of this policy.

Exceptions to this policy may be made only for:

  1. SPEs (Small Private Events) that meet specific Residential Life criteria, and are held in the Residence Halls.
  2. Private member-only/invite-only parties with under 100 guests, whose organizers provide a complete guest list to Student Programs prior to the event & allow entrance to only those on the submitted guest list. These events can NOT be advertised anywhere.

Admission Policies and Advertising

Managing a safe and orderly entrance and determining and controlling maximum attendance at events have proven to be some of the most difficult responsibilities for event sponsors to meet. Therefore, a college-compliant plan must be in place before your event is advertised, and admission information should be included in all advance publicity and posted at the entrance to your event. Since consistency of campus venue and event management is essential to the ongoing safety and success of all of our programs, all event sponsors will need to follow the same practices for consistency and fairness.

All sponsoring Orgs are required meet with Student Programs for each event at least a full week prior to the event. At that time, the professional staff of the Office of Student Programs will discuss best practices and explain mandatory procedures with you. Our goal is to help you host an event that you can be proud of, one that meets your goals and reflects well on your org and its members.

Admission Prices

Event sponsors are at liberty to set the admission price for their events, but sensitivity to differences in student access to luxury funds is encouraged. When asking for higher ticket prices, you may wish to consider tiered pricing, and or "sliding scale" options. One option for parties is to offer a lower price before a certain time, such as “only $3 before 11 pm, $5 after…” In addition to allowing those of limited means an option for reduced price entry, this also encourages folks to arrive early & gets the party started.

Attendee Identification for Parties/Dances

All guests, including MHC students and their guests, must show a legal ID at the point of purchase to enter an MHC party, and have ID on their person while in attendance at the event.

It is the sponsors’ responsibility to thoroughly and consistently check all IDs as described below. Failure to check IDs will be cause for early termination of the event and future programming sanctions for the hosting org.

Attendance Criteria/Options

In addition to the required procedures as outlined in this policy, event sponsors may choose to establish specific reasonable entry criteria for their event. If any entry restrictions are desired, it is critical that they be included in all advertising. For example, a costumed themed event could limit attendance to only those wearing costumes. This must be clearly listed in all promotional materials and posted clearly at the door.

Similarly, many event sponsors seek to create social events intended primarily for fellow college students and specific guests of MHC students. In these cases, event sponsors may elect to set an age limit minimum for their events, such as “over 18 only”.

Below is a sample entry policy you may elect to use for your event, is such a criteria is desired.

  • Unescorted attendees must have a valid college ID in order to enter the event.
  • Attendees without a college ID must be guests of a current MHC student.
  • MHC students may bring up to 4 guests each. These guests must arrive and enter with the student host. The MHC host is responsible for their guests throughout the event.

It is not acceptable to set any admittance criteria which are discriminatory with regard to race, color, national origin, citizenship status, creed, religion, religious affiliation, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, veteran status, or any other protected status under applicable law.

Advertising

College Policies prohibit social events and/or advertising that use alcohol as the central theme or promote or encourage excessive alcohol consumption. An event may be cancelled if the sponsors do not adhere to this policy. It is, however, recommended that alcohol service be noted on any advertising for events for which it has been contracted so that potential attendees may make informed choices.

Similarly, sexually explicit/suggestive marketing is not appropriate for open-to-the-public social events held on the Mount Holyoke campus. As managers of the facilities, Student Programs requires that events held in Chapin and Blanchard are within reasonable community standards for decency. Sponsors should remain aware that any advertising for events creates a public image, not only for the sponsoring group and its individual members, but also for the institution as a whole and all MHC students on campus. Please be good stewards of your own and MHC’s collective image and reputation.

Remember that the Blanchard Campus Center remains a public building serving the community during events in the Great Room. Faculty, staff and fellow students may be enjoying the café or at other programs within the building during your event.

When designing your event promotions think thoughtfully about the impact your advertising will have on the nature of your event, the safety and well being of your peers, and the overall impression of our community. Who are you appealing to and what expectations are you creating? Remember that the Internet can be used to disperse information rapidly, incompletely and far beyond your preferred audience. Even paper flyers can circulate well beyond your intentions. A good rule of thumb for advertising is to avoid using content, images, or mixed-message slogans that you, your friends, or family would be embarrassed or concerned to see posted on the front door of your home.

All event advertising must bear the name of the sponsoring organization and the accurate admission policy information, including the admission cost, an “ID required” notice, and any other criteria set for the event. For popular events, it is advisable to note: “event may sell out: come early” or similar.

Your event publicity should state clearly if it is an ADA compliant accessible event, and whether or not anyone may be contacted for special needs arrangements (e.g. welcoming accommodations for guests who are blind, hearing impaired, mobility impaired, etc.)

Party & Large Event Staffing

The cornerstone of responsible party or large event hosting begins with adequate staffing. If your Org wants to host one of these events you must provide sufficient responsible staffing for the comfort and safety of your guests, the welfare of the general campus community and to ensure compliance with all campus policies, and federal, state and local laws. Typically, Org members constitute the working staff of a party or large event. It is also possible to enlist the assistance of another MHC Org, in exchange for goodwill, payment to the Org, and/or in trade for services. (i.e. a written agreement is strongly encouraged, for example: “we’ll staff 4 of the 8 people required for your party today, you’ll contribute 4 staff for our party next month”).

Serving as event staff is an important, responsible and official college role. Event staff must remain sober and on-duty throughout their shift. The Org sponsoring the event remains responsible for all event staff, even if they have been recruited from another Org. The host org must supply the Event Captains (more info on Event Captains below). All names of event staff must be listed on the Event Staffing Schedule (obtained from the Office of Student Programs). Below are minimum standards required of all event hosts. If you cannot guarantee the required staffing throughout your event, you should not plan to host the event.

Event Captains (or Event Co-Captains if your org. prefers) are required, as designated ‘host-managers’ of the event, responsible for communicating with Campus Police, Dining Services, Student Programs & other college staff and ensuring that all doors and entry station are fully staffed at all times. Event Captains must be members of the sponsoring org. They are required to monitor the event for safety and compliance & bring any safety concerns to the attention of Campus Police. In the event of a sponsor staffing shortage, the Event Captain must immediately recruit sufficient staff to meet stated minimums or the event cannot proceed and/or must be ended. The Event Captain on-duty cannot be one of the designated door or ticket station staff for more than a few minutes, as they need to be mobile to oversee all aspects of the event (Event Captains may substitute briefly for door and/or ticket station staff to allow them reasonable bathroom breaks). If your Org has designated Co-Captains, at least one of the two Captains must be present and on duty at all times.

Event Captains must meet with the Student Programs Event Coordinator approximately 2 weeks prior to the event to obtain an event permit, and instructions about event staffing. They will be responsible for picking up, signing out, and returning the Event Tool Box, Event Permit, and the assigned wristbands for the event.

Event Staffing Minimums

  • In Blanchard, all party and large event sponsors must have a minimum of 8 people on-duty at any given moment throughout the event (including an Event Captain).
  • In Chapin, the minimum required staff on-duty at all times is 10, including an on-duty Event Captain.
  • Staffing of other approved venues must be discussed in advance with the Office of Student Programs professional staff.
  • All doors & ticket station must be staffed a min of 20 minutes prior to the advertised start time.

Failure to staff your event according to the prescribed standards, or to adhere to any of the other outlined campus event policies will result in early termination of the event and/or campus sanctions for the sponsoring org. (see below for more information).

All working staff must commit to remaining on site at their post, in compliance of MHC’s code of conduct, and must be sober prior to and throughout the duration of their shift. It is inexcusable to have intoxicated persons representing your org and the college.

All on-duty "Event Staff" will be identified by laminated badges provided by the Office of Student Programs.

Tickets/Wristbands/Handstamps

Every party must consistently, diligently and exclusively use the Student Programs-supplied allotment of entry wristbands for their event. Each allotment represents the maximum fire code room capacity for the venue used and specific furnishings configurations (400 max for Blanchard with cleared dance floor, 800 max for Chapin with clear floor). Additional wristbands may not be supplemented - these numbers are the maximum allowable attendance/maximum room capacities as determined by law. Note: Event capacities may need to be reduced if any floor space is taken up by event furnishings, including décor, tables, displays, etc.

All guests, working sponsor staff, and anyone else in attendance must wear an entry wristband. “If you are there, a wristband you must wear…”.

The “Ticket/Wristband Station” must be separated from the entrance door to reduce congestion and confusion. See below for more specific information about how to set up the staffing stations in each venue.

Wristbands/Laminates for staff & working Org members

Everyone at an event counts towards max capacity. Total room capacities include all sponsor members and guests in attendance and staff. Therefore, in addition to all event guests, all event staff & any sponsor team/org members or guests must also have a wristband and handstamp, issued out of the original allotment that ensures compliance with room capacities as set by law.

In addition, all event staff that are actively working/on-duty must wear an official “Event Staff” laminated badge & lanyard, as supplied in the Event Tool Box in order that they can be easily recognized as the responsible staff on-duty.

Sold-Out Event

Some events will sell out. Ticket/Wristband station workers and Event Captains will need to keep an eye on the number of remaining wristbands or tickets. If you are approaching sold-out status, it is wise to alert any waiting patrons that the event will soon sell out. “Sold-Out” means that no one else may enter the event.

Once all wristbands have been applied to guests (or all tickets distributed), no one else may enter the event. You have achieved maximum capacity, as allowed by law. Congratulations!

It remains the sponsors’ responsibility to enforce the limits and control the access to the event.

If you are sold-out, The Event Captain must immediately post the appropriate signs from the Event Tool Box at all building entrances and close the ticket station. Inform all event staff that the event is sold-out and continue staffing all posts. It is imperative that no additional people enter a sold out event. Failure to control access at doors will result in the early termination of an event and loss of programming privileges for the sponsoring Org (see "sanctions" below).

Even if you sense that people are leaving, additional people are not allowed to enter. Wristbands may not be exchanged or traded.

Sharing the Work/ Sharing the Glory

Staffing the ticket station and/or entrance door can be hectic and stressful at times. Make sure that the work is distributed fairly among those committed to staffing the event. Event Captains should check-in regularly with all sponsor staff to allow for bathroom breaks and timely ‘changing of the guard’.

Please don’t abuse the most dedicated members of your team by burdening them with an unfair portion of the work. A healthy org can plan for sensible staffing transitions throughout the event. Plan ahead and make all expectations clear to everyone. Use common sense. Remind staff before the day of the event that they must be sober and on-time for their shift. They must complete their full shift and wait for replacement before leaving their post. Make sure everyone knows the Event Captain on-duty. etc.

Entry Process for Parties and Large Events (all venues)

Both Wristbands & Handstamps are required for entry into all dances and parties. Tickets may be used for events when the guests are to be seated audience style.

Advance Prep

‘Admittance Policy’ signs, as provided in the Event Tool Box issued by Student Programs, must be posted prominently at the ticket station & main entrances to the event venue.

If you wish, tickets may be sold in advance for your event and exchanged for wristbands upon arrival at the event. This process takes more work and advance planning but for some events may prove beneficial. Discuss your game plan with the Office of Student Programs before reaching a final decision or advertising the event. You may NOT sell actual wristbands in advance as that defeats the counterfeit control and proper application of the wristband on the patron by event sponsor staff. If tickets are sold in advance, you must extract an equal number of wristbands from the allotment to reserve for ticket holders as they arrive. It is then critical that you do not sell any of these wristbands that are reserved for those who pre-bought tickets and are expecting entry wristbands.

Payment/Money/Making Change

In order to have a functional ticket station, your org must request appropriate cash (for making change) in advance from the SGA Business Office. You may withdraw up to $500 for this purpose, assuming you have sufficient funds in your account, by completing a Petty Cash form 2-3 days prior.

Expect many patrons to arrive with only $20 bills. If your admission is $5, you will need lots of $5s & $10s. If you charge $3, then you will need lots of $1s, $5s & $10s.

Entry Procedure: Ticket Station

For all parties and dances, all attendees must first come to the Ticket Station to pay their admission, present their pre-purchased ticket* (if tickets were sold in advance) or request entry to the event (if the event is has no admission charge).

*note: if tickets are sold in advance, entrance policies must be stated on the tickets!

  1. In all cases, prior to accepting payment or a valid pre-purchased ticket, you must FIRST request and examine the ID of any person seeking entrance. Guests without a valid ID cannot be granted entrance to parties. Respectfully apologize for any inconvenience and assure them that this is standard college policy and not specific to them. You do not have the power to make an exception. If you need assistance in handling any person denied entrance, please inform the Campus Police staff on-duty to assist you.
  2. The first event staff person accepting payment & making change must complete the transaction then handstamp the person eligible for an entry wristband.
  3. The second event staff person may then apply the wristband. Wristbands must be applied by event staff & not attendees themselves. Wristbands must be put on sufficiently tight as to not be removable, but not constrict blood flow! Event staff handling money and applying wristbands should utilize the sanitary gloves supplied in the Event Tool Box. Best practice is to both handstamp and apply wristband to the same hand consistently, i.e. always the left hand.
  4. Once both a handstamp and a wristband have been applied at the ticket station, attendees may enter the event only through the designated Lower Level entrance by displaying their entry credentials (wristband & handstamp).

Entry Procedure: Entrance Doors

  • To enter, one must have both a wristband and a handstamp. No excuses. No exceptions. Consistency makes the system equitable and respected.
  • The staff working the entrance doors is responsible for inspecting every wristband for signs of tampering or re-use.
  • If a wristband has been cut, broken, or stretched (implying that it was issued to another & re-used) it is not valid for entrance. Inform the person that damaged, altered, or re-used wristbands are not acceptable, and ask them to remove the invalid wristband in your presence, Collect it, and trash it. Engage Campus Police staff if necessary.
  • All event staff & any sponsor team/org members or guests must also have a wristband and handstamp, issued out of the original allotment that ensures compliance with room capacities as set by law. Total room capacities INCLUDE all sponsor members and staff. (Everyone at an event counts towards max capacity.)

Accessibility

Be sure your event staff is aware of the best entrances and exits for guests with mobility issues who might be using wheelchairs or crutches, or require special parking considerations. If you are uncertain ask about this, ask the Student Programs staff during the Event Captains staffing tour.

Entry Procedure: Exit Doors

Event Staff working any designated exit doors are responsible for maintaining the doors as ‘exit only’ for the event. No one, including org members may enter through these doors with the exception of the on-duty Event Captains and MHC professional staff (Campus Police, Dining Services, etc) working the event. Politely direct guests back to the entry.

Event Permit

Every party or large event subject to this policy shall display a completed Event Permit at the entrance to the event. The Event Permit requires signed commitment by the designated ‘Event Captains’ (or Co-Captains) accepting their responsibilities. The Permit is completed after meeting with Student Programs days prior to the event.

Dereliction of Duty Sanctions

Failure to staff your event according to the prescribed standards, or to adhere to any of the other outlined campus event policies will result in early termination of the event and a possible loss of org social event programming privileges for three semesters.

An MHC Student Organization is only as strong and reliable as their weakest member or worker. Ultimately, it is the sponsor/host org that is held responsible for any shortcomings in its event staffing. If any staffing post is abandoned by an individual or individuals, the org must immediately muster replacements. There are no acceptable excuses for failure to maintain minimum staffing. Therefore it is wise to plan for several dedicated back-up staff in case of delay, illness, or dereliction of duty by others. In advance, optimally during initial planning and reinforced throughout the process, make sure everyone in your org agrees to contribute to the event you are sponsoring. As hosts, you accept these tasks and responsibilities.

The host org. retains responsibility for all event related staffing and protocol. Individual MHC students remain responsible for their own law abiding and college policy compliant behavior, and are subject to the sanctions administered by the Dean of Students Offices, as outlined in the College Policies section of the Student Handbook (found online under Dean of Students).

MHC Party Policy Checklist:

  • Event Tool Box in hand
  • Event Permit completed & posted at the entry door (Event Captains get this at their meeting with Student Programs)
  • Admission policies signs posted at ticket station
  • Introduction of Event Captain & staff to Campus Police
  • No exits blocked, per fire code
  • Sufficient staff at all posts as required by policy
  • Event Captain overseeing event and supporting staff
  • IDs checked at ticket station/hands stamped
  • Wristbands applied by sponsor staff, securely
  • Wristbands checked at entry, every person, every time
  • Cash revenues deposited in money bag to Skinner drop
  • "Sold Out" signs posted, if applicable
  • Sponsor staff at posts throughout event
  • Responsiveness to Campus Police or other MHC staff
  • Lights on & music off at event curfew (typically 2 am) or earlier, upon failure to maintain event staffing
  • Sponsor clean-up of venue
  • All decorations and tape, etc. removed from venue