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Michigan State UniversityMichigan State UniversityInfrastructure Planning and Facilities

Outdoor event guidelines

Hosting an event on-campus

Students: In order to schedule an event on campus, you need to fill out an activity planning form (APF) from the Department of Student Life. You must have a location confirmed with the Department of Student Life or IPF before submitting an IPF service request form. Please go to the Students page.

Faculty and staff: For an outdoor event, no prior confirmation is necessary before submitting a service request to IPF. Please go to the Faculty and staff page.

Required university sponsor for off-campus entities

An off-campus entity must gain sponsorship from a campus unit in order to host an event on campus. The campus sponsor must “lend” its university account number for an event service request. (Reimbursement for campus fees and services shall be handled between these two parties.) To simplify communication, one contact shall be designated to coordinate with the university, as well as be responsible for the event from set-up to take-down. The Events office will coordinate with Landscape Services and other necessary entities to discuss access, circulation, parking, layout, security, etc. and will inform the designated contact of these arrangements.

Video, film or commercial production events

Before planning filming on MSU's campus, a copy of the proposed script and shooting schedule must be reviewed by Communications and Brand Strategy (CABS). Michigan State University may not be identified without express permission of CABS (517) 355-7505. Identification is constituted by the inclusion of exterior shots of “icon“ structures such as Beaumont Tower, Spartan Stadium, the Sparty Statue or any image showing the MSU name or logo or identifiable symbols associated with the university, such as signs, sweatshirts, flags or any building or campus identifier with MSU graphics. The only institutional identification should appear in the production’s credits or acknowledgments. CABS has the authority to deny requests that may reflect negatively or unduly impose on the university.

Commercial advertising and corporate displays

This includes, but is not limited to, advertising found on banners, vehicles and portable signs. The proposed design and messaging will be reviewed by the Infrastructure Planning and Facilities Communications department. Size, quantities and locations will be reviewed by the Events office, which will, in turn, review with the Secretary of the Board of Trustees. The university reserves the right to limit size and number of advertising items as specified in ordinance. Please refer to the advertising on campus page.

Large commercial events at “The Rock” site

These events may not be sponsored by student organizations. Advertising shall be placed in the lower field only; none shall extend higher than the Farm Lane bridge deck. (See advertising regulations sub-section above.) Also, any hand-outs must be reviewed and approved in advance by the Events office, which will then get approval from the Board of Trustees. Event and program displays must include a university component. A minimum of 25 percent of the displays, activities, programs and services displayed shall highlight university programs or services, and must be coordinated by the sponsoring university unit. A narrative highlighting the purpose of the event, activities and displays to be included, area requirements, map of event components, etc. must be submitted to the Events office for review.

5k runs on campus

  • Registration location and physical set-up details must be reviewed by the Events office. The Events office will coordinate and gain approval from the following campus departments (if applicable):
  • Only two routes are offered; the maps are located on the guidelines page. Both are along the river and avoid major road crossings. Special routes may be permissible upon request. All routes will be marked by Landscape Services using cones. No chalk or washable paints may be used. Groups marking a 5K course will be assessed a $50 fee.
  • Requested equipment, furniture and tents must be approved. Tents at 5K runs, if approved, will be assessed an additional fee. MSU does not supply tents. See tent guidelines for additional information.
  • Amplified sound requests (duration and type) must be reviewed and approved by the Secretary of the Board of Trustees and the Office of the Registrar. Disruption to classes and campus business is prohibited; the Events office will coordinate.
  • Food must be approved by the University Sanitarian. See food service guidelines for additional information.
  • Sponsoring group is responsible for gathering litter into provided receptacles and agrees to pay for litter service. Coordinate receptacle needs with the Events office.
  • Signage must be reviewed and comply with the guidelines noted in advertising on campus. Signs are to be displayed only on the day of the event and removed immediately following. Acceptable trail signs are small wire signs (similar to political signs) or A-frames, which pose no hazard to underground utilities. 
  • On-site advertising is discouraged. Limited display will be considered.
  • Street crossings must be staffed by organization for duration of event.



Food served at outdoor events shall be reviewed by the MSU Food and Water Sanitarian. See food service guidelines for more information. Litter services fees will be assessed at time of application. Do not locate approved grills beneath trees.


Tents (other than 10’ x 10’ pop-ups) require approval from the Events office, including tents for tailgates. There is a fee. See tent guidelines for more information.


Free-standing temporary signs, including A-frames, wire signs and banners, require sign permits, which are restricted to authorized locations, type, method of attachment and quantities. Signs may be displayed for seven days maximum per event per semester. Unauthorized signs may be confiscated by staff. See advertising on campus for more information.


Parking shall be in legally designated areas only. Driving or parking on lawns is not allowed, even for approved events.

Caterer vehicles

A commercial parking pass from MSU Police is required. Please submit number and sizes of catering vehicles, trailers, carts and generators requested.


Giveaways, T-shirts, etc. must be reviewed by Residential and Hospitality Services and the University Licensing Programs. Be sure to have a licensing authorization form on hand if you have giveaways.


Alcohol is prohibited without approval from Secretary of the Board of Trustees and MSU Police.

Amplified sound

Amplified sound requests must be reviewed and approved by the Secretary of the Board of Trustees and the Office of the Registar. Disruption to classes and campus business is prohibited; the Events office will coordinate.

Protection of the campus arboretum

Nothing shall be attached to trees, nor shall storage, vehicle parking or pedestrian circulation be placed beneath them. Any damaged trees or campus plantings may result in fines.

Prohibited items

Prohibited items include indoor furniture, carpet or other flooring, personal grills, signage (other than one with group name attached to tent), advertising, sales and raffles. Nothing shall be attached to trees and plants.

Insurance requirements

The Events office will coordinate with Risk Management early in the process, once the scope of the event is defined. Corporate entities must be prepared to present proof of liability insurance naming MSU; others may also be required to show it as well, as requested by Risk Management.

Event Day

Display copy of approval on site during set-up and the event.