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University clarifies policy on third-party events

Third parties using University space to sign contract, have liability insurance, accept policies on media

The University publicly announced its new policy for third-party use of campus space in a community-wide email sent last Wednesday. Developed by the Office of the Provost and University Event and Conference Services, the new policy is “designed to ensure the most effective and efficient use of University facilities, and to provide a clear process for any external third-party use of University space,” according to an announcement released in Today@Brown.

Third-party groups hoping to use University facilities must meet a number of requirements. This includes signing a contract with University Event and Conference Services, obtaining liability insurance in the amount of $1 million and complying with all policies related to commercial photography, filming, image use and use of the University’s name, according to the policy on the University’s website.

The online version of the policy defines external third-party user organizations as “a recognized public service organization; a non-profit educational or professional organization; a non-partisan organization; a for-profit or commercial business entity; a government agency or elected or appointed government official (for non-partisan/nonpolitical purposes).”

“It’s not really a new policy,” said Marisa Quinn, chief of staff to the Provost. Rather, publishing an official policy online provides “an opportunity for members of the community to know and understand what the policies are of the University for bringing third-parties,” to campus, she added.

While the University’s million dollar liability insurance policy might seem prohibitively expensive, the policy does not apply to certain campus partners that support the University’s “educational mission,” Quinn said.

Previously, discrepancy existed among different departments in implementing University standards, Quinn said. “We’ve always provided opportunities for third-parties to come and use space at Brown … (often) in the form of conferences … or providing space for a local school to have a graduation. Those are things that we still want to be able to do, but there’s been an inconsistent understanding of how to go about doing that,” she added.

Though Event and Conference Services had its own third-party space policy, the new University-wide policy helps to define and achieve the department’s goals more effectively, said Julie Haworth, director of University Event and Conference Services. The University’s main goal is to provide space for students, faculty and staff members, but it still strives to function as an open partner to the greater Providence and Rhode Island community, she added.

Despite the recent policy clarification, the University has not changed the process that student groups must agree to when inviting third-party partners to campus, Quinn said. Currently, recognized student groups “work through (the) Student Activities Office and bring their national organizations (to Brown) all the time.” 

When defining the process to allow third party organizations to use campus facilities, the University considered input from representatives of various departments on campus including athletics, the Student Activities Office and the Office of Government and Community Relations, Quinn said.

With increasing demands on limited space, the University hopes to balance the needs of internal and external community members, she added. “Space is at a real premium, and we want to be sure that we can be a good neighbor and provide access to our space and make sure we’re meeting first and foremost our educational and research mission. … There has to be this clarity about how that’s done so that it’s fair, it’s equitable and it’s still in support of the University mission.”

Correction: An earlier version this article stated that the University’s million-dollar liability insurance policy does not apply to campus partners that support the University’s educational mission. In fact, the University’s million-dollar liability insurance policy does not apply to certain campus partners that support the University’s educational mission. The Herald regrets the error.

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