3.1 Community Use of University Resources

3.1.1 Introduction

The following guidelines describe the circumstances under which the general public may use the University’s nonacademic facilities. Use of the academic facilities by the public is not permitted except in the transaction of the University’s business or by permission of the dean of the faculty. These academic facilities include: faculty offices, research facilities, conference rooms, and classrooms (except where classrooms are used for public lectures or conferences as described in the guidelines).

Princeton University seeks to respond to community needs and the needs of the general public by sharing its resources and facilities when appropriate and possible. It encourages the participation of the community in activities of mutual benefit. However, it must protect the central educational purposes for which the University was established and must conserve its resources, both physical and financial. Accordingly, University functions have priority over community events in scheduling the use of facilities.

3.1.2 Administration

The following policies for the implementation of these guiding principles are administered by Conference and Event Services. It is the responsibility of that office to see that the policies are properly applied and, when necessary, to seek interpretations from appropriate University officials. It is recognized that these guidelines cannot cover every contingency. Questions about the use of facilities or about these guidelines should be directed to Conference and Event Services.

3.1.3 Types of Facility Use

Public participation in activities involving the use of University facilities takes place through five general kinds of invitation, each of which is discussed below.

By Explicit Invitation

Many activities in the University are unambiguously open to members of the general public. These are often listed on the University’s public events calendar, on departmental websites, on the University’s main website, and in the Princeton Weekly Bulletin, and most are an integral part of the University’s function as an educational institution. Examples are: public lectures, open houses (at Peyton Hall, Firestone Library, etc.); conducted tours of the art museum, the chapel, and other buildings; athletic events; concerts and plays at McCarter Theatre and Alexander Hall; public skating at Baker Rink; and chapel services.

By Implicit Invitation

The University makes its grounds, waters, walkways, and roads generally available to the public, while reserving the right to regulate or prohibit their use. Such regulations may be called for when unrestricted use of these facilities could impede the University’s educational mission, could be dangerous to the public, could become a nuisance to the community, or could place the University in a position of substantial liability. The University may therefore be compelled to place what it considers to be reasonable limits on the use of selected areas, such as Lake Carnegie, the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs’s reflecting pool, and the front campus.

By Participation in University-Sponsored or Sanctioned Programs

Many University facilities are available to members of the general public on a limited basis, sometimes involving a charge, for activities with official University sponsorship where it is specifically determined that access by the general public is in the best interest of the University. Examples include: the programs of the Student Volunteers Council; authorized participation in certain academic programs; specified programs of the Department of Athletics (outdoor tennis, squash privileges); Firestone Library privileges; the Program in Continuing Education; and the Program in Teacher Preparation.

By Renting University Facilities in Periods of Low Usage, Especially in the Summer

Organizations wishing to rent University facilities should apply to Conference and Event Services.

Requests for use of University facilities will be considered for the following types of activities, subject to the limitations stated elsewhere in these guidelines.

  1. Activities of a broad educational or informational nature sponsored by professional societies and other nonprofit organizations, and educational and training programs of the tax-exempt educational components of profit-making organizations whose principal business is not education.
  2. Programs with artistic, cultural, or entertainment content, which may appeal to the University community.
  3. Charitable events on a limited basis.
  4. Nonprofit summer camps and institutes in such areas as sports, music, and the arts under the aegis of Conference and Event Services and directed by a salaried University official.
  5. Student-initiated events approved by the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students or the Office of the Dean of the Graduate School.

The following types of activities ordinarily will not have access to University facilities.

  1. Activities sponsored by off-campus organizations for political purposes or for fund raising for political goals or for influencing public policy. (For campus-based organizations, see section 2.1.3)
  2. Other fund-raising activities (except for a limited number for charitable purposes).
  3. Activities conducted primarily for the purpose of making a profit for the sponsoring organization which are not of general interest to the University community.
  4. Activities which could be construed by the public to be educational courses or other activities sponsored by the University when, in fact, they are not so sponsored.
  5. Activities that fall outside the guidelines.

The following additional considerations will be taken into account in considering requests for the use of University facilities.

  1. The activity should not interfere with the schedule of normal activities of the University.
  2. The sponsoring organization must show that it is fiscally sound and has the resources necessary to underwrite all risks associated with the event, and that it has demonstrated administrative capacity to organize and manage the event in a manner consistent with University traditions, standards, and requirements.
  3. The content of the activity should be reasonably compatible with the primary activities and the mission of the University as an educational institution and should be carried out with the decorum appropriate to the academic environment.
  4. Activities that might present problems for the local community, such as traffic congestion or noise, will be approved only after prior consultation and coordination with the local community.
  5. Proposed activities will be reviewed to determine the extent to which they may disadvantage local business or University organizations through competition for patrons.
  6. During the course of the academic year, when access to facilities must be limited due to extensive use for University purposes, preference will be given to outside groups hosted by campus organizations or departments and activities that are of interest to the University community.
  7. Activities that pose a safety concern to the campus community. 

The renting of University facilities will ordinarily be on a first-come-first-served basis for eligible organizations, except that campus-based groups or University-sponsored programs shall have priority insofar as administratively feasible in booking available space.

Charges for use of University facilities will be established in advance by Conference and Event Services for each activity.

By Private Invitation

Unless a member of the public uses University facilities through one of the avenues mentioned above, the individual must be the guest of a specific University person, who assumes responsibility for the guest’s activities and safety while the guest is on the University campus. This guest privilege shall not be construed to authorize members of the University community to make nonacademic facilities available to guests except for short visits, nor shall it be used to relieve non-University persons or groups of the responsibility for paying for the use of University facilities for which charges are made.

Any individual or group, including campus-based organizations, contemplating the use of University facilities should also consult the guidelines relating to political activities and those relating to University security for persons who are not members of the University (section 3.3).