New campus event policy simplified after student, community feedback

Under the revised Major Events policy, event organizers who want to invite guests who could draw large crowds — like Senator Bernie Sanders, who visited UC Berkeley in June 2016 — will need to give campus six weeks notice instead of eight. (UC Berkeley photo by Brittany Hosea-Small)

Under the revised Major Events policy, event organizers who want to invite guests who could draw large crowds — like Senator Bernie Sanders, who visited UC Berkeley in June 2016 — will need to give the campus six weeks notice instead of eight. (UC Berkeley photo by Brittany Hosea-Small)

Student groups and event organizers at UC Berkeley will face fewer bureaucratic hurdles under a new set of rules governing major gatherings on campus. The rules were made public by administrators on Wednesday.

The new policy will simplify and streamline the process of bringing newsmakers or other speakers to campus, and was the result of months of work by a dozen Berkeley staff and administrators.

“This has been the most-reviewed campus policy since I started as policy coordinator in 2004,” said Andrew Goldblatt, a member of the group tasked by Chancellor Carol Christ with reviewing the previous set of rules, which had been introduced in August.

Nearly 500 students, staff members, professors and community members submitted their thoughts about the old rules, which some student groups found overly restrictive.

“We knew we needed to redraft our polices to let students have the events they want to have and let us manage them effectively,” said Stephen Sutton, the interim vice chancellor for student affairs. “The biggest thing for me was to make this a community effort.”

The student-sponsored Free Speech Week event in September 2017 drew hundreds of demonstrators to the campus. (UC Berkeley photo by Khaled Sayed)

The student-sponsored Free Speech Week event in September 2017 drew hundreds of demonstrators to the campus. (UC Berkeley photo by Khaled Sayed)

The old rules required event organizers planning events with alcohol, outdoor amplified sound or crowds of more than 200 people to give administrators at least eight weeks notice so the campus could conduct a security review and make other arrangements.

Under the new rules, advance notice for large events is reduced to six weeks, and will only be required when 300 people or more are expected to attend, or the event will include alcohol or outdoor amplified sound. The policy document was also shortened to 20 pages.

“All those changes were in response to the public comments that we received,” Goldblatt said.

Students and outside groups will still be free to host spontaneous events on Sproul Plaza (upper and lower) under the new policy.

“That’s part of culture” of the campus, Sutton said. “We want to be able to continue to let that happen.”

A summary of the new policy can be found here, and the complete document can be accessed here.