Policies & Guidelines

All events at Princeton University must be in accordance with both University, State and Federal regulations. Events with alcohol or amplified sound may require permits. Please use this page as a resource when planning to ensure a successful event.

Policies Regarding Space Reservation

Use of University Facilities

The Princeton University publication, Rights, Rules, Responsibilities  provides guidelines for use of University Resources including the use of University facilities.

Use of Outdoor Spaces

Princeton University’s outdoor spaces are one of the University’s most valuable and in some cases most fragile resources. Princeton’s grounds are an integral part of the architectural beauty of the University; they complement and enhance buildings; they are a resource meant to be enjoyed by members of the University and, in most cases, the general public. Painstaking and ongoing care and proper use are necessary to keep our grounds in good condition. 

Requests for the use of Princeton University’s outdoor spaces are reviewed based on several factors including but not limited to:

  • Time of year (whether classes are in session; whether other large University sponsored events are scheduled like Reunions or Commencement events)
  • Weather and impact on the grounds, and the existing condition of the grounds
  • Safety and security
  • Benefit to University community
  • Interference with other campus business or ability to navigate around campus
  • Set-up required
  • Duration

Please provide us with as much information about your event as possible when requesting space.

Listed below are examples of selected outdoor spaces that may be available for activities sponsored by University academic or administrative departments or registered student organizations with Office of Undergraduate/Graduate Student event approval. To inquire about reserving outdoor space please contact Conference and Events Services at 609-258-6115. External organizations/individuals are not permitted to rent outdoor space.

The following spaces are the most commonly reserved areas:

  • Alexander Beach-Popular for picnics and large outdoor gatherings. Past events include Princeton Preview check in, the SheRoars opening dinner and a number of residential college activities.
  • The University Store Courtyard-Popular for picnics and large outdoor gatherings. Past events include fairs and picnics hosted by student organizations.
  • Dod Courtyard-Popular for student organization BBQs and events. Past events have included class sponsored events.
  • 1879 Lawn-Popular for student organization outreach displays and fairs. Past events have included the TASA Asian Night Market and Student Global AIDS Campaign display.
  • McCosh Courtyard-Popular for smaller gatherings. Past events have included departmental picnics.
  • Murray-Dodge Lawn-Popular for small picnics and outdoor movies. Past events have included departmental picnics and student organizations showing films on the side of Whig Hall.
  • 1879 and Blair Arches- Popular with a cappella groups.

Note that front campus (the lawn in front of Nassau Hall), Cannon Green, and Prospect House lawn and garden are reserved for University ceremonial events, most held annually, such as the fall Pre-rade, Communiversity, Commencement, Class Day and are not normally available for any other purpose.

Conference and Events Services suggests you take the following into account when planning your outdoor event:

  • Amplified sound is not permitted before 5 p.m. during the academic day. During the academic year amplified sound may be further restricted in areas near academic buildings. For example, outdoor space requests with amplified sound may be denied depending on evening programs and lectures, particularly in the areas surrounding McCosh Hall and Richardson Auditorium. Events likely to generate substantial crowd noise may also be restricted.
  • All furniture must be removed after the event. Furniture cannot be removed from buildings for outdoor use.
  • Camping in vehicles, tents or other structures is not permitted on campus. Sleeping in outdoor space of any kind is prohibited.
  • All grills must be placed on flat land with no tree cover. All coals must be disposed of properly and not dumped on the lawn
    • The use of any open flame, grill, cooking appliance, or similar device requires a Municipal fire safety permit and specific safety precautions. Contact the Princeton University Fire Marshal for more information.

    • Open burning (e.g. camp fires, fire pits) is not permitted unless approved by the Princeton University Fire Marshal in consultation with the Municipal Fire Marshal. Note: a Municipal fire safety permit may be required.

  • Pathways and entryways to buildings must be kept clear and accessible.

While Conference and Events Services reserves outdoor space, additional departments provide support services for certain types of events.

  • Some events, such as large scale events or events with alcohol, will require security presence. Please contact Duncan Harrison (duncanh@princeton.edu) to arrange for Public Safety to be on site. There is a charge for this service.
  • All structures, including tents, must be arranged through Grounds and Building Maintenance. Please contact Rob Staudt (rs17@princeton.edu) to arrange tent rental. Tents are not allowed near residential buildings with the exception of Reunions. For detailed information see Facilities Event Support.
  • In an effort to protect underground cables and tree roots it is mandatory that the Grounds and Building Maintenance department perform a mark out prior to anything being driven into the ground.
  • Student groups wishing to hang banners on McCosh Walk must follow a particular procedure. (See Facilities Event Support) To post large signs on 1879 Lawn you must contact Rob Staudt (rs17@princeton.edu) to arrange set up.

Please make sure you leave the grounds in the state that you found them. (See Facilities Event Support) Additional garbage and recycling bins may be rented from Building Services. Charges will be assessed to departments and groups who leave the grounds in disrepair after their event.

The Conference and Event Services office will gladly answer any additional questions you may have about outdoor space. Please contact us directly.

We have taken seriously the safety of students, staff and visitors to campus when forming these regulations. Events that do not follow these regulations will be shut down and future requests will be put in jeopardy.

Policies Regarding Permits or Sales


When alcohol is served at a conference or event, Princeton policy and applicable NJ State laws, regulations, and rules for the sale, service, and consumption of alcohol must be followed.  Alcohol should not be served at events with student attendees without first contacting the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students.

social affair permit from the State of New Jersey may be required in some cases when alcohol is served. A minimum of two weeks is required to secure a social affair permit and a fee of $100.00 is applied by the New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety, Division of Alcohol Beverage Control. A public safety officer may be required at the expense of the hosting department or organization based on the nature of the event or the space in which the event will be held.  

Contact Eric Hamblin (609) 258- 3371 or Michelle Horgan (609) 258- 6116 in Conference and Event Services with questions regarding the consumption of alcoholic beverages during events or conferences.

Book Sales

Occasionally an author lecturing or presenting at a conference or event may request permission to sell copies of their book. Guidelines for such sales are as follows:

  • Labyrinth Books is the contracted vendor for book sales on the Princeton University campus.
  • Labyrinth Books may set up a table outside an event to sell copies of an author's book.
  • Princeton employees may not be involved in such sales.
  • Authors may not sell their publications directly.
  • When in doubt contact Conference and Event Services directly before giving any vendor permission to sell at a campus event.

The Borough of Princeton regulates noise and is the issuer of noise permits for outdoor events.

Amplified sound is not permitted before 5 p.m. during the academic day. During the academic year amplified sound may be further restricted in areas near academic buildings. For example, outdoor space requests with amplified sound may be denied depending on evening programs and lectures, particularly in the areas surrounding McCosh Hall and Richardson Auditorium. Events likely to generate substantial crowd noise may also be restricted.

Financial Requirements

Insurance Requirements

The University requires outside parties who will be performing work or providing services to the University, or those using University facilities to provide evidence of certain types of insurance coverage at specified minimum limits. The Office of Finance and Treasury provides details regarding University insurance requirements.

Billing Guidelines

Conference and Event Services (CES) provides consultative services at no cost. We may be able to provide staffing at larger and more complex conference or events at no cost based on availability of a staff member.  Each department or program is responsible for any and all direct expenses (direct expenses are defined as the actual cost charged by a vendor or service provider, whether it is internal or external) relating to their conference or event.  Charges are run through a CES chart string and the department or program will be billed via internal invoice after the end of the event, and when all related expenses have hit our chart string.  Conference or event funds should be held in a departmental or program chart string.  CES does not set up chart strings for conference or event contributions for departments or programs.