The GSAPP Office of Academic and Student Affairs acts as an advisor to all recognized student organizations within the School. The Office’s role is to facilitate co-curricular programming, student-led initiatives, and activities that support academic, professional, civic, and community engagement while promoting the diverse interests of the campus community. The Office of Academic and Student Affairs oversees and approves all registered student organizations and initial event programming requests.
The purpose of the student organization handbook is to provide all recognized GSAPP student organizations with an informative guide regarding policies and regulations to support group programming. Students are responsible for adhering to the information provided in this handbook.
A student organization consists of any recognized group of students who register with the Office of Academic and Student Affairs, receive funding, and contribute to the engagement initiatives of GSAPP.
The GSAPP Office of Academic and Student Affairs advises all recognized GSAPP student organizations. Each student organization also designates an Advisor among the current faculty or staff. Advisor responsibilities include, but are not limited to:
Additionally, other faculty as well as staff from the Communications Office, the Development Office, the Events Office, and the Finance Office may serve as resources to assist in brainstorming and supporting student organization activities. Furthermore, Program-specific organizations will be supported by their Program Manager.
The Office of Academic and Student Affairs is here to support students’ work in as many ways as possible and to marshal the many resources of GSAPP and the University on their behalf. The Student Affairs team looks forward to working with student organizations to make their time at GSAPP a meaningful and enlightening experience.
The following are some of the benefits and privileges extended to GSAPP student organizations upon their official recognition.
Registered student organizations can:
In addition to benefits and privileges, student organizations also have certain responsibilities that they must adhere to, including the following:
The status of a student organization may be revoked at the discretion of the Associate Dean of Academic and Student Affairs.
All advertising and publicity for student organization events must meet the following guidelines:
No student organization may use the official title of the University or any of its parts except in connection with legitimate University purposes. For example, neither the name of the University nor its letterhead may be used by any organization in sponsoring or recommending any commercial/entrepreneurial services or products. Columbia University stationary may not be used in connection with an outside entity that has been established by one or more student organization members.
When interacting with administrators, vendors, and fellow students, please remember that members represent not only the student organization but the GSAPP and University community as well, and appropriate, professional courtesy and behavior is expected of student representatives at all times. Complaints about the conduct of student organizations will be taken seriously and will be addressed through the Office of Academic and Student Affairs in partnership with the Office of the Dean and the University’s Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards.
GSAPP student organizations are allowed to create their own logos and/or banners. Any material incorporating the University or School names or visual identity needs prior approval, which can be requested through the Communications Office. Please provide a draft of the logo along with an explanation of its proposed use.
The student organization’s logo/banners can be used for the following purposes:
The name of the University, its insignias, and the emblems of its schools may not be used to advertise or recommend commercial products and services, to promote the activities of outside organizations, or to further social or political causes.
If the student organization would like to request a dedicated page on the GSAPP website for additional details and content beyond the listing on the Student Organization directory page, it can do so through the Communications Office.
Student organizations may also create websites through the Columbia Sites platform. Learn more about this process on the Office of University Life’s Student organizations page. All student organization web pages must comply with the University’s policies about web page creation and usage, as well as with federal law such as copyright laws and restrictions on data transmissions.
The University’s policies and recommendations concerning websites and online publishing can be found at the following links:
Specifically, please note the following, as it pertains to external non approved sites , and stated in the Columbia University policies:
As members of the GSAPP community, students are expected to exhibit professionalism, courtesy, and respect for the rights of others. The student organization’s web page should reflect this responsibility.
The following disclaimer must appear prominently on the homepage of the student organization web page:
“Columbia University and GSAPP do not sponsor, review, or monitor the contents of World Wide Web sites on University facilities, nor does the University or GSAPP endorse the contents of any such web page.”
The Office of Academic and Student Affairs reserves the right to amend or revise GSAPP policies governing student organization and/or the Student Handbook. Proposals and/or petitions for amendments may be brought forth by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
If a student organization wishes to solicit funds from an outside source, here are the steps the student organization must follow:
No solicitation package may be distributed to potential donors until it has received written approval from the Development Office.
Online gifts must be made through the Columbia GSAPP website here. External payment websites such as GoFundMe, Kickstarter, Paypal, Venmo, etc. are not approved. Cash deposits are never accepted. Checks payable to Columbia University are accepted, as well as gifts of stock and by wire transfer. Unused gift funds may be rolled over to the next year.
Domestic checks are to be mailed to:
Columbia University–Gift Systems
P.O. Box 1523
New York, NY 10008
When hosting an event, either on or off campus, student organizations will be financially liable for many expenses. Before committing to an event or incurring expenses, the budget (sample provided here) requires the approval of the Associate Dean of Academic and Student Affairs, for all GSAPP student organizations, and approval of the Program Director for Program-specific student organizations.
Once approved, event coordination and payment will be made through the GSAPP Events Office. Listed below are examples of the types of expenses prior organizations have incurred:
Below are the steps that may assist with planning an event:
Choose a Date
In an effort to avoid conflicting programs, please check the GSAPP Academic Calendar and GSAPP Events Calendar.
The Room Reservations page is a resource that should be reviewed before submitting a room reservation request. All requests for space must be submitted to Room Reservations via email email@example.com. Please view the room reservation page for additional information on available rooms, including their capacity and AV capabilities.
If the student organization is reserving a room or space at another Columbia University School or venue (such as the auditorium at Lerner Hall or any outdoor space at the University), please follow these instructions to request space as far in advance as possible.
Some spaces at the University must be reserved in the semester prior to the one during which the event is held. Depending on the date and time, student organizations might be charged to use the space. Review resources for student events here.
When ordering food, please be sensitive to the range of dietary restrictions reflected in the GSAPP student body including kosher, vegetarian/vegan, and various food allergies. If possible, add healthy options. In general the best budget friendly option for student organized events is to request a letter of authorization to purchase groceries or catered items for delivery from the Westside Market at 2589 Broadway (at 110th Street) visit the store website for an up to date catering menu and costs. The process for requesting the letter of authorization is to confirm the requested amount and the student representative who should be named on the letter 5 days or more prior to the pick up date to the events office. Typical requests would be $50-75 for an organization meeting, $250-500 for a lunch or evening panel.
If food is being served at the event, using one of the University’s preferred vendors for on-campus catering is preferable and facilitates a faster way to ensure timely payment. Please consult with the Events Office to determine available catering options for the event.
Inviting a Speaker
Advertising and Publicizing an Event
The GSAPP Communications Office is committed to providing as much publicity for student-organized events as possible, which can include postings on the website, newsletters, or social media channels. For assistance, contact firstname.lastname@example.org as far in advance as possible, but no less than two weeks before the event to discuss publicity details.
Also consider how best to utilize the student organization’s website, both to publicize events in advance and to use the “web presence” to keep interested people abreast of the organization’s activities in general.
A presentative of the organization should be appointed by the organization to be the liaison to the Events Office for each event. This person will be responsible for collecting any necessary forms or required paperwork related to the expenses that will be submitted to the Events Office for processing.
Student organizations that are planning career or professional events should first coordinate with the Office of Development and Alumni Affairs. The Development Office requests at least four (4) weeks’ notice prior to the date that invitations (or “save the date” notices) are distributed. For events whose success depends on robust alumni attendance, invitations should be distributed at least two months before the date of the event.
A student may not sign a contract on behalf of student organizations or the University.
Certain vendors have a master agreement with the University. If the organization’s off-campus event meets any of the following criteria, a contract must be signed by the University:
If the student organization has a contract or master agreement, please forward it to the Events Office. If the venue doesn’t have a contract, the Events Office can assist in preparing one.
It may take as many as three weeks for a contract to be reviewed and approved, so plan accordingly. If the planned venue is not in the University’s financial system, it will take approximately one to two additional weeks to add it. The Events Office can verify whether or not a venue is in the financial system.
For GSAPP to pay a vendor directly, the vendor must be approved and in the University’s vendor system (shortlist of preferred vendors provided here).
For a vendor to be added to the University’s system, the student organization officer will need to email the following information to Kristina Camaj:
The student organization officer must provide all of the following to process payments to a vendor:
Columbia University is a tax-exempt organization. Sales tax should never be included in the amount to be paid. A tax-exempt form can be obtained by requesting it from email@example.com.
It may be necessary to request a check for approved vendors as advance payment for goods or services or in payment to individuals who are non-Columbia University personnel. The request should be submitted to the Finance Office at least five (5) weeks before the check is needed.
A check request is usually required if a vendor requires prepayment and will not invoice for a payment.
Check requests may not be used for:
A purchase order (PO) is used to place larger orders with vendors for materials, parts, supplies, equipment, repairs, services, and consultant services. Types of goods or services that require a PO include:
All contracts or agreements must be reviewed by the University to ensure compliance with all University regulations and must be paid directly by the University.
In order to determine whether a vendor requires a PO, email Kristina Camaj with the details of the intended purchase. If a PO is required, further documents will be needed before payment can be made.
Processing and paying vendors via a PO may take at least four (4) weeks or more. This should be considered before booking or contracting with a vendor.
Additional information and useful links to forms and procedures may be found on the GSAPP Finance webpage.