Spring 2021 Guidelines for Student Organizations & Gatherings

Hamilton College values the well-being of its students and recognizes that students thrive when the campus is flourishing with opportunities to socialize; try new things; connect with others; participate in athletics, publications, and student organizations; and attend events. Student engagement remains a priority for the College during the COVID-19 health emergency, and Hamilton recognizes the need to institute revised operating policies and procedures for campus life, student activities, and athletics to promote the health, safety, and well-being of all community members. 

Hamilton provides students and the larger community with meaningful and appealing activities and seeks engagement with students studying remotely. This plan outlines guidelines for virtual and in-person programs to provide a well-rounded student experience. It takes into account  emerging best practices, Hamilton College policies, and relevant federal, state, and local government orders and guidelines.

General Student Gathering Policies

In order to be equitable and inclusive of all Hamilton College students (students on campus and students studying remotely), the majority of student events and gatherings shall be hosted in an online or virtual format, or a hybrid of in-person and virtual, when possible.

If 10 students or fewer wish to gather informally indoors they may do so, but they must remain physically distant and wear a face covering. Indoor gatherings of more than 10 people must be an approved official event, and are subject to established occupancy limits. This includes classes, labs, team practices, religious events, club meetings, and other approved activities. If 25 students or fewer wish to gather informally outdoors they may do so, but participants must remain physically distant and wear a face covering. A gathering of more than 25 outdoors must be an approved official event.

Student organization officers, athletic team captains, Resident Advisors (RAs), and Orientation Leaders (OLs) may only host events for more than 10 people indoors with Student Activities approval. To host an event that exceeds this capacity, one must apply and be approved to host an official event through the Student Activities Office. The form can be accessed through the Presence Engagement Platform starting Jan. 25, 2021, for spring semester event requests. Approved gatherings of more than 10 people shall never exceed the College-stated COVID capacity for the event space and are expected to follow the guidelines for physical distancing and face coverings. The hosting organization will complete a risk assessment as part of the event application.

Programs that will not be approved include those where physical distancing is not possible, the event is considered “high risk” due to close contact, and, in some cases, the activity calls for the sharing of supplies and equipment.

No external guests or off-campus presenters or performers will be permitted to attend any event or gathering on campus. Student Activities may hire vendors and outside service providers to set-up equipment for an approved event. Vendors and service providers must sign a service agreement that adheres to Auxiliary Services guidelines. These vendors and service providers may not interact with students and must adhere to College distancing and face-covering policies at all times while dropping off and picking up equipment. An example would be renting “drive-in” movie screens to be used outdoors on campus.

We anticipate food offerings at gatherings will be limited, but if food is approved for an event it must be distributed in a “boxed-lunch” style, where all components of each person’s food is contained in one box to allow for “grab-and-go.” Catering permitted for group events will be based on the current guidelines in place at the time of the event. The catering director or Student Activities staff, in consultation with Auxiliary Services and the requester or event planner, will determine the type of service based on food service guidelines in effect at that time.

  • Weather-permitting, outdoor canopies (some will be reservable while others will be available for informal use on a first-come, first-served basis)
  • Babbitt Pavilion
  • Sadove Student Center
    • Tiered approach to opening spaces
      • Tier 1 will include the Living Room, Sunporch, Conference Room, 3rd Floor Atrium, and the Sadove Terrace
      • Tier 2 will include the Sadove Basement Multipurpose Room and the 3rd Floor Resource Room
        By reservation or if available on a first-come, first-served basis
    • Card Access Only: WHCL and Media/Spectator Office (will decide if there will be staggered schedule access or stay fully remote)
      • For at least the first two weeks, we will not allow access to these spaces
  • Fitness and Recreation Spaces
    • Outdoor Fields, Alumni Gym, Fitness Center Multipurpose Room & Dance Studio, and designated fitness canopies can be reserved when they are not in use by intercollegiate teams
      • Use of athletic facilities, both indoor and outdoor, will be determined by guidelines adopted by the intercollegiate program; staff or student supervision may be required.
  • Dwight Lounge and Bristol Terrace by reservation
  • Chapel 3rd Floor Lounge, Chapel Meditation Room, and the Chapel Muslim Prayer Room
    • Meditation Room and Muslim Prayer Room reservable by 25 Live Express
  • Glen House Great Room and Glen House Porch by reservation following approval by Outdoor Leadership Staff
  • The Days Massolo Center (DMC) first floor computer lounge, living room, and sunroom will be open on a limited basis and capacity. Open hours and days will be posted on the website, social media accounts, email signature, and exterior doors. Hamilton community members must use their HillCard to gain entry. Due to COVID-19 guidelines, the kitchen and second floor will continue to remain offline.

Students may hold leadership positions for their clubs or organizations even if they are studying remotely in the spring semester. If students take a leave of absence, they may not hold a leadership position or be an active member of an organization.

At least one-third of the Executive (E) Board should be studying on campus if the organization plans to host in-person events. If more than one-third of a club’s E-Board is studying remotely, or should a club leader studying remotely be unable to fulfill specific responsibilities for the position, the club may elect new leaders on an interim or permanent basis, and the club should follow outlined election policies from its constitution to fill vacancies.

We also understand that a club’s ability to remain active and functional is contingent on the organization’s specific activities. Therefore, student organizations will be given the option to temporarily deactivate for the semester if the club leaders do not feel the organization can operate within the prescribed guidelines. Student Activities will work with student organizations that want to remain active to hold modified versions of club activities or to develop new activities to support club growth and continued operations that may differ from the club’s usual function or activity.

All leaders must attend any required virtual club leader training offered at the start of the semester to gain an understanding of the new and evolving rules and regulations for operating during the pandemic. Attending these trainings will allow the organization to apply for safe in-person activities and have access to funding. Failure to attend will place an organization on an inactive status for the semester.

Risk Assessment Inventory
Student Activities required student organizations and clubs to complete a risk assessment inventory and COVID-19 operating plan as part of their renewal process for the fall semester. Clubs were asked to consider if their usual activities were feasible with the implementation of these guidelines, if there were modified activities or equipment and processes that could be implemented, and to think strategically about how the organization could function virtually and with limited in-person activities while still supporting the organization or club’s mission. Student organizations were given the opportunity to temporarily deactivate their organization for the fall semester. 

Student Activities will reach out to all student organizations at the start of the spring semester to inquire if the organization's COVID-19 operating plans and risk assessments have changed from the fall semester. Student organizations will be given the opportunity to reactivate or deactivate for the spring semester based on their updated risk assessment and plans. Student Activities will provide opportunities for student organization leaders to have club consultations to discuss their specific activities and challenges and identify potential modifications for their club to operate within these guidelines.

Club meetings should be held virtually through Zoom this semester to allow accessibility for all students. It is permissible for the E-Board to meet informally (not to exceed 10 people or the posted capacity), while maintaining physical distance and wearing a face covering, to plan for full virtual club meetings.

All performance-based practices, programs, and events should attempt to be accessible to the entire student body, including those studying remotely. We will work to identify some classroom and conference room spaces that can double as student club spaces with the technology to support in-person and virtual engagement simultaneously. These spaces will need to be reserved through 25Live to allow for contact tracing and to ensure that more groups have access to available spaces. Spaces will be assigned based on availability at the Weekly Events (WE) meeting.

Student organizations requiring funding for programming and activities should apply for funding using the Budget Allocation form in Presence. Budget allocation requests should be submitted at least 10 days prior to your event or activity. The form is due weekly on Fridays at noon starting on Friday, Feb. 5, 2021. Budget requests will be reviewed by the Student Assembly treasurer and Funding Committee and will be voted on by the Central Council of Student Assembly at the weekly SA meeting on Monday nights.

Student Activities has also identified funding for student organizations needing to purchase supplemental equipment and supplies to modify their operations to fit within these guidelines. Student organization leaders should contact the director or assistant director of Student Activities to inquire about purchasing COVID-19-related equipment, supplies, subscriptions, and PPE. We will do our best to accommodate reasonable requests to support student involvement.

Student Activities will be updating policies for raising donations virtually. If an organization uses its official club name to advertise a fundraiser, the club will have to register the fundraiser with the Student Activities Office. Students are not permitted to table and fundraise in the Beinecke Activities Village, on Martin’s Way, or anywhere on campus as they have in the past due to challenges presented by physical distancing guidelines and policies pertaining to food preparation (bake sales) and exchanging currency. 

Student Activities does not encourage using a personal Venmo or PayPal account to collect donations. Whenever possible a student group should identify the non-profit organization and check to see if donations can be made directly to the nonprofit's website.

In-Person Programs 
After the initial two weeks of the semester, assuming positivity rates are low and Hamilton’s COVID-19 alert level status is Green, clubs and organizations will have the opportunity to host programs. Any in-person event exceeding 10 people indoors or 25 people outdoors will require approval by the Student Activities Office. An event proposal form will be accessible through the Presence platform. After the proposal form is submitted, a checklist of safety guidelines will be populated. Event proposals will be due at least 10 days prior to the event and will be reviewed by the Student Activities Office. The Weekly Events Committee will decide which events may violate these guidelines and discuss whether the event can be supported. If the event is approved, Student Activities or the Weekly Events Committee will assign an appropriate space for your event and will input the event in 25Live. The event requestor will receive a confirmation email from 25Live.

Programs will be limited to the posted room capacity to support physical distancing. The seating set-up or event layout must allow for ample physical distancing. The College has recalibrated capacities for all campus facilities. Updated venue capacities can be viewed on 25live. Students should not reset the room and must use it “as is.” Event safety checkers will be assigned to approved student-sponsored events to ensure that College protocols are being followed. Additionally, the student event safety contact will require attendees to show their green emocha badge for entry to the event.

The use of the informal or reservable canopies will be encouraged to maximize available outdoor spaces when the nice weather returns in the spring. 

Whenever possible, there should be a virtual component to all programs and events to provide accessibility.* For example, the Knitting Club may ship and distribute yarn and supplies, or a group of five members may gather physically distanced with masks to lead a demonstration that would be hosted virtually for those off campus or students who are on campus but cannot attend the small gathering due to capacity restrictions.

All travel is suspended for clubs and organizations, as is the case with academic-related travel for field trips and internships. Groups that typically travel can work with Student Activities and their advisor (if they have one) to think of creative ways they can still function on campus. For example, we recommend exploring ways to conduct Mock Trial, Debate, or Model United Nations competitions virtually with other colleges.

Club Sports
We know playing a sport is important for many of our students. The Athletics Department will work with you to engage with your club team safely, where possible. Our plan will be consistent with the College’s safety protocols, which are guided by New York State guidance on sports and recreation. We plan to do our best to treat all of our varsity and club athletes equitably.

There will be no intercollegiate competition permitted for the winter season, and we are awaiting guidance on the spring. Club sports will adhere to the guidance of the Athletics Department, and coaches will collaborate with our club programs to offer practice opportunities that are supervised appropriately. We will incorporate New York State and NCAA return-to-sport guidance and best practices. 

Similar to our intercollegiate rowing programs, some club programs will fewer practice options because of the College’s COVID-19 travel restrictions. Alpine and Nordic ski, Equestrian, Sailing, and Curling team members will not be allowed to leave campus for practice. 

Club teams should work with the Athletics Department staff to discuss a workout and practice schedule that adheres to College guidelines.

Current Club Sports Summary: Out of the 16 club teams, all but four should be able to practice on campus. The following groups can practice on campus with supervision: Men’s and Women’s Soccer, Men’s and Women’s Rugby, Ultimate Frisbee, and the Running/Cycling Club.

Intramurals, athletics, and recreation events will adhere to the guidance of the Athletics Department. They will also follow the New York State Sport and Recreation Guidelines that are in place at the time.

Use of indoor and outdoor athletic facilities will be determined by guidelines adopted by the intercollegiate program; staff or student supervision may be required.

Wellness programming will be available over Zoom for students studying in person and remotely. We will work with students to plan outdoor options that are physically distant to offer some of our traditional wellness classes and then record them on Zoom for others who cannot join in person due to capacity constraints or not being physically on campus.

Example(s) of what the committee thinks we can offer with the current guidance:

  • Mountain biking on College trails (through Outdoor Leadership)
  • Outdoor Fitness Classes
  • Yoga and Pilates 
  • Golf, tennis, pickleball
  • Snowshoeing
  • Cross country skiing
  • 3-pt basketball shooting contest
  • 5k run
  • Swimming
  • Physically distanced spin classes
  • Wellness presentations over Zoom

A Cappella and Performance Groups
A cappella groups will follow the guidance provided by the Music Department for best practices associated with singing, rehearsals, and performances, in addition to the College’s guidelines for gathering and physical distancing. Guidelines include:

  • Increased physical distancing (10-12’ distance instead of 6’)
  • No standing in a circle or horseshoe (i.e., face forward)
  • No choreography or touching
  • Beat-boxing should be separated farther away from the rest of the singers
  • No sharing pitch pipes, tuning forks, or sheet music
  • Shorter rehearsal times

Consultation with the Music Department staff, Student Activities staff, and a cappella leaders will be ongoing so we can support safe a cappella practices and performances. Event safety checkers will be assigned to practices to ensure that protocols are being followed. Student Activities will provide all a cappella members with approved singing masks. Dance groups cannot engage in partner choreography or any group choreography that requires physical contact and closeness.

The Chaplaincy will follow all New York State guidelines for religious gatherings. For our smaller communities (where the weekly gatherings are typically 10 to 20 people) social gathering protocols for small group gatherings are to be followed, either outside or spaced in a larger indoor space, with appropriate face coverings. Chaplaincy staff will supervise all such gatherings.

The Chaplaincy will support our religious and spiritual student organizations’ needs as they relate to food by adhering to the guidance outlined in this document and by working with Bon Appetit.

We recommend that students explore worshipping via Zoom with religious communities in their hometown or home country or with a local place of worship that allows them to practice or observe remotely.

The Muslim Prayer Room and Meditation Room will be available for student use through the 25 Live Express Scheduling site to allow for contact tracing and staggered use.


  • Partner with Bon Appetit to think through kosher catering options for Friday Shabbat
  • Explore outdoor meditation options
  • Partner with Student Activities on a journaling series with a focus on self-reflection with the support of the Chapel’s mindfulness intern.

Cultural Groups

The Days Massolo Center (DMC) will partner with the cluster advisors from the Chaplaincy and Student Activities to provide opportunities for our cultural organizations to engage safely in accordance with the guidelines in this proposal related to catering, fundraising, and event planning.


  • Offering hybrid Black History Month and future heritage or identity month celebrations
  • Reschedule the Voices of Color Lecture Series for October keeping restrictions in mind throughout the planning process
  • Explore a LatinX music festival and Back2School bash that would be a hybrid of an in-person or virtual event
  • Work with student groups to expand the #ForHamilton campaign that was started by the summer student engagement committee

Volunteer Groups
HAVOC and AXB will work closely with the directors of the COOP and Student Activities to seek ways to fulfill their mission based on the guidance in this document and best practices for volunteering and fundraising.


  • A pen pal program
  • Virtual tutoring
  • Virtual storytelling
  • Partner with the Knitting Club to send winter hats to community organizations in need

Media Organizations
Our 14 publications and College Radio Station will adhere to the guidelines outlined in this document and best practices. We recommend that publications maintain a mostly virtual presence for the academic year, that print layout be done virtually, and that periodicals be distributed via email, social media, and on the College website through the Presence platform. We will explore if a limited number of publications can be printed this semester.

WHCL can function remotely through an auto DJ program. We recommend a possibly tiered or staggered return to in-person broadcasting and that all media facilities in the Sadove Student Center require card access populated by media organization rosters in Presence.

For the start of the semester, the Media Suite and the WHCL Radio Station will not be accessible via Hill Card.

The Blood Fitness Center will open but operate at reduced hours and occupancy to minimize the risk of contracting COVID-19. The majority of the fitness center equipment was relocated to the indoor practice facility adjacent to the Bundy Scott Field House. Please be sure to wipe down any shared strength or cardio equipment before and after you use it; disinfecting equipment before you use it keeps you safe, and disinfecting equipment after you use it keeps the next person safe. Please have your College ID and your green emocha badge available to gain admission to either location.

Several other facilities, including the Bristol Pool, Sage Rink, Bundy Scott Field House, and the Climbing Wall are also available for use but all locker rooms remain closed. Please follow guidelines when using any of these facilities. When exercising on campus, please keep the health and safety of yourself and others in mind at all times. Because we expel droplets and aerosols more forcefully during physical exertion, we need to “Double the Distance!” When exercising, whether indoors or outdoors, please wear your mask at all times and maintain a distance of 12 feet, rather than six feet. We’ve separated all of the exercise equipment by 12 feet to accommodate the extra distance.

Participation in close contact pickup sports and games, such as basketball, soccer, volleyball, ultimate Frisbee, hockey, lacrosse, rugby, and spikeball is prohibited at this time, because it is not possible to maintain distance. You may work on individual skills in small groups, like playing catch, shooting on a goal, or tossing a Frisbee provided you maintain appropriate distance. Playing squash or racquetball with another person in the same court is also prohibited, but you may enter a court to develop your individual skills. Intercollegiate and club team practices will be managed and supervised by Athletic Department staff and will progress slowly, following recommended sport resocialization phasing guidelines.

We will continue working closely with the Hamilton COVID-19 Task Force and incorporate updated information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the NCAA, and New York State to assess our exercising guidelines and best practices throughout the semester.

Fraternities and sororities must adhere to the guidance in this document as it relates to student gatherings, event proposals and plans, and fundraising. Leaders of these private societies should attend any required training to obtain the information necessary to host an event or gathering. Any society that holds a gathering in violation of these and other COVID-19 safety policies will face disciplinary action and suspension of all future fraternity and sorority events for a period of time.

Fraternities and sororities approved to move forward with their new member education and pledge processes will be permitted to do so from Monday, Feb. 8, through Sunday, March 14.  Rush will begin on Monday, March 22, and conclude no later than Monday, May 10. Any activity or event related to new member education or recruitment that violates the COVID-19 community agreement will be viewed as a violation of the agreement and a hazing violation.

The Outdoor Leadership Center (HOLC) will explore ways to promote activities so students can remain on campus while safely enjoying the outdoors.


  • HOLC loans out cross country skis, snowshoes, fat bikes and ice grippers for exercise in the glens and on campus trails
  • Weather permitting, HOLC organizes 20 to 30-mile bike rides off campus on quiet local roads; no stopping, shopping, crashing, or riding directly behind or beside other riders
  • Running Club off-campus runs up College Hill Road to Skyline Drive and back
  • Outing Club organized walks around the peripheries of campus
  • Weather permitting, open the low and high ropes courses for team, floor, class, and club experiential learning; New York State allows ropes courses to be open subject to the usual distancing rules, which will severely limit low ropes course options

Failure to comply with the recommended policies and programming guidelines in this document will result in the club, organization, or student leader immediately losing all access to funding and the ability to host events for the remainder of the semester.

Additionally, at the discretion of Student Assembly, and in consultation with the Student Activities Office and the appropriate partnering area (Club Sports, DMC, etc.) a club or organization may lose recognition and be placed on inactive status for the remainder of the semester.

Failure to comply may also result in students being held accountable through the College’s conduct system. The COVID-19 Community Standards Agreement, the Student Handbook, and the Group Accountability Process govern potential consequences for not following the policies outlined in this guide.

We hope to implement phased policy changes as the COVID-19 pandemic improves. The phases are still being developed, but we plan to monitor the situation and, as circumstances permit, revisit the restrictions in these guidelines. Our goal is to return to normal activities and operations as soon as we reasonably can.

For example:

  • Off-campus travel
    • First, we might permit day-trips for outdoor or socially distanced activities (e.g., hiking, skiing, or horseback riding)
    • Next, we might permit day-trips for other non-distanced activities (e.g., a pottery class at the Kirkland Arts Center, volunteering, trips to the movies, or a museum visit)
    • The last phase would include overnight travel for conferences and competitions
  • Off-campus guests
    • First, we would permit local performers to visit campus since performers have the least amount of contact with students on campus (e.g., Onondaga nation members for a SKI event)
    • Next, we might permit performers from other states
    • The next phase could be allowing attendees or participants at campus events (e.g., HAAND’s Kelberman Clubhouse events, club or intercollegiate sport competitions, a Mock Trial scrimmage)

Extracurricular Engagement Committee
Noelle Niznik, Director of Student Activities, Committee Chair
Kaity Stewart, Assistant Director of Student Activities
Dave Thompson, Director of Blood Fitness & Dance Center and Campus Wellness
Andrew Jillings, Director of Outdoor Leadership
Lisa Magnarelli, Director of College Events and Scheduling
Jon Hind, Director of Athletics
Pat Giruzzi, Assistant Athletic Trainer and Club Sports Advisor
Paola Lopez, Director of the Days-Massolo Center
Tessa Chefalo, Director of Orientation and First-Year Programs
Jeff McArn, College Chaplain
Claire McKenney, Assistant Director of College Events & Scheduling
Roger Wakeman, Associate VP for Facilities and Planning

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