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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:

  1. Providing guidance on event planning and program development.
  2. Ensuring compliance with Columbia University policies.
  3. Attending student organization meetings/functions when available.
  4. Consulting on organization and individual student concerns.
  5. Ensuring student leaders are in good standing.

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.

Student organizations at GSAPP are among the most important drivers of students’ lives and experience during their time here. Student organizations shape the public conversation, provide social spaces, mentor and guide students, and create communities. Managing a student organization requires a combination of vision, dedication, financial oversight, flexibility, and the ability to plan and then execute plans. There are benefits and responsibilities that are inherent with membership in a GSAPP student organization.
Benefits and Privileges

The following are some of the benefits and privileges extended to GSAPP student organizations upon their official recognition.

Registered student organizations can:

  1. Reserve space and facilities on campus (both at GSAPP and beyond) through Room Reservations.
  2. Be listed on the GSAPP website.
  3. Advertise events in approved posting areas in Avery Hall and email announcements via the listservs of the Office of Academic and Student Affairs, Communications Office, and Program Offices.
  4. Use GSAPP as part of the organization’s name.
  5. Apply for and receive funding from the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation.
  6. Receive advice and assistance on policy and operations from the staff in the Office of Academic and Student Affairs.
Recognition Requirements and Membership Eligibility

In addition to benefits and privileges, student organizations also have certain responsibilities that they must adhere to, including the following:

  1. Have a minimum of five (5) members, currently enrolled students, who share a common interest and collectively pursue their activities in a collegial and professional manner.
  2. Renew their registration annually with the Office of Academic and Student Affairs.
  3. Have an advisor who is a current academic or administrative member of the GSAPP community. Advisors can assist the organization to function in accordance with its stated purposes and provide guidance and counsel to promote the growth and direction of the organization. The Office of Academic and Student Affairs will act as the advisor on all items related to adhering to student organization policy, programming and organizing operations, and helping prevent violations of University, School, community, or state regulations.
  4. Elect an organization representative that will serve as a liaison between GSAPP administrative offices and the student organization.
  5. Attend annual meetings with the Office of Academic and Student Affairs regarding student representative training/best practices.
  6. Refrain from engagement in commercial activity with non-Columbia University affiliates.
  7. Be open to all members of the GSAPP community, regardless of protected category consistent with the University’s non-discrimination statement.
  8. Forego duplicating the function(s) of other recognized student organizations.
  9. Accept all rules mandated by University policy and local, state, and federal law.
  10. Abide by the policies set forth in this handbook and other GSAPP policies as administered.
  11. Abide by the University Student Conduct and Community Standards and GSAPP Honor System.

The status of a student organization may be revoked at the discretion of the Associate Dean of Academic and Student Affairs.

Advertising and Publicity Guidelines

All advertising and publicity for student organization events must meet the following guidelines:

  1. All postings must be approved by the Events Office.
  2. Postings restricted to designated areas at GSAPP. Posting on windows and doors is strictly prohibited, and all publicity placed there will be removed.
  3. Posters must be removed within 24 hours of the completion of the event.
  4. Events that are open to members and non-members of the organization may be publicized through the GSAPP Communications Office.
  5. The following is to be indicated on all materials that are posted:
    • Full name of the sponsoring organization.
    • Time, date, and location of the event.
  6. Other activities which require email communication are supported by Student Affairs (for all-GSAPP organizations) or the Program Manager (for Program-specific organizations).
Use of University Name

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.

Use of School Name
In the text of letters, promotional materials, and other documents, please use either the School’s full name “Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation” or the shortened “Columbia GSAPP”. The same rules governing the use of the University name apply to the use of the School name. The GSAPP logo may only be used with prior permission for specific instances and must follow the guidelines outlined on the GSAPP Identity page.
Student Organization Logos and Banners

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:

  1. To promote student organization events within GSAPP and throughout the University’s campuses
  2. To promote GSAPP student organizations at conferences, workshops, career fairs, etc.

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:

  • Columbia University does not sponsor or endorse the contents of personal home pages.
  • Individuals are personally responsible for actions taken on the network as a member of the Columbia community.
  • No University system or network may be used for any purpose or in a manner that violates University rules or regulations or federal, state, or local statutes or regulations.
  • Use of University systems or networks for commercial purposes, except where explicitly approved, is strictly prohibited.

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

The Communications office produces the GSAPP Conversations podcast published through Apple Podcasts, SoundCloud, and Spotify. The office also provides production support for additional podcasts initiated by academic programs, faculty, or alumni. Student organizations interested in podcasting have the opportunity to collaborate with the Communications office by proposing topics or guests for the main GSAPP Conversations podcast series. The administrative staff is also available to provide guidance and direction, and make recording equipment and distribution channels available to student organizations interested in producing their own podcasts. Please contact to discuss these opportunities in more detail.
The Office of Academic and Student Affairs oversees student organization budgets and the annual allocation of funds. Only recognized student organizations may apply for funding up to a maximum of $2,500 annually. Funding provided to student organizations is to be spent in the year in which funding was allocated. Unused funds may not be rolled over to the next year.
External Accounts
It is strictly forbidden for any student organization to maintain external bank accounts outside the Columbia University accounting system. Non-Columbia accounts for Columbia activities jeopardize the School’s status with the Internal Revenue Service and could nullify the student organization’s eligibility to use the Columbia name or to benefit from its non-profit status.
External Fundraising

If a student organization wishes to solicit funds from an outside source, here are the steps the student organization must follow:

  1. Designate one person from the student organization to act as the liaison with the Development Office.
  2. Draft all solicitation materials the student organization wishes to distribute and schedule an appointment with Associate Director of the Annual Fund at for review. Written solicitation material typically includes a solicitation letter (the “ask”), usually no more than one page in length, and a separate document detailing donor giving levels and benefits and collecting donor contact information (i.e., a donor form). Additional promotional materials may be considered as well for inclusion in the solicitation package.
  3. Submit the prospective donor list (e.g., the names of firms or other entities being solicited) to Associate Director of the Annual Fund at
  4. Allow at least 10 business days for the Development Office’s review and approval process. Be sure to plan accordingly.
  5. Copy on all communications.

No solicitation package may be distributed to potential donors until it has received written approval from the Development Office.

Depositing Funds

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

The Events Office is responsible for organizing the Dean’s Lecture Series and Conferences as well as other School-wide programming. It also serves as a resource for student organizations by offering advice and support in realizing a successful event.
Budget Event

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:

  • Printing of collateral materials, such as posters, stickers, t-shirts, or booklets
  • Events expenses, such as catering orders or grocery orders (Westside Market only)
  • Vendor management for events requiring space rental or contracts
  • Honoraria for guest speakers

Below are the steps that may assist with planning an event:

  1. Choose a Date
    In an effort to avoid conflicting programs, please check the GSAPP Academic Calendar and GSAPP Events Calendar.

  2. Room Reservation
    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 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.

  3. Catering
    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.

  4. Inviting a Speaker

    • Submit the list of potential speakers to the Events Office in advance of extending the invitation to confirm payment eligibility.
    • Once approved by the Events Office, extend an invitation to the individuals being invited to speak via e-mail with a cc to the Events Office.
    • If the student organization is covering travel expenses for guests (e.g., airfare, lodging, cab fare) please contact the Events Office at least 6 weeks before the expenses will be incurred.
    • If the person is a head of state, head of government, cabinet minister, high government official or leader, and/or is considered high profile or controversial, please contact the Events Office as soon as possible but not less than 3 weeks before the event. Please note, events including any of the aforementioned will require an event review. Student organizations should carefully review the University Policy on Partisan Political Activity before planning any action or event sponsored with a political party or candidate. If guests require special security, the student organization will incur additional security fees.

  5. 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 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.

  6. Processing Expenses
    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.

Screening Movies and Television Shows

Policies and Procedures

Commercial films and television shows are protected by copyright law, and may not be shown in any public setting on campus without obtaining a public performance license from the copyright owner. A public setting is defined as any venue on campus outside of an individual student’s dorm room. Even if an event is restricted to a certain group of students, such as members of a particular club, a license must be obtained in order to show a film or television show at that event. These copyright restrictions apply whether or not a fee will be charged for admission to the event.

Rights for public performance must be secured within 10 days of the scheduled event. Proof of license must be submitted to both the advising and or event management office. Failure to provide the timely submission of proof of license will lead to the cancellation of the space reservation and the subsequent event.

Student organizations found in violation of the law and Columbia University policies described above will risk de-recognition and could be subject to other penalties.

Procedure of Screening a Movie in Lerner Hall

Choose Movie & Determine License Owner

There are four principal companies who license films on behalf of the film companies:

  • Film Inc.
  • Frameline, Inc.
  • Swank Motion Pictures
  • Criterion Motion Pictures

The websites for these companies list the films they represent and provide contact information.

If the film or show that you wish to license is not listed on either of these websites, set forth below is information as to how to clear the rights:

  1. Look at the packaging box the DVD/VHS movie comes in.

  2. Find the copyright notice. This is usually written © [DATE]. (Examples: © 1981 or © 2004)

  3. Locate the company name that appears with the © symbol (Example: 20th Century Film Corporation Sony Picture Entertainment MCA, Inc. MGM/United Artists Universal Paramount Pictures Corporation Warner Bros.)

  4. Go on the internet and locate the headquarters of the company. This information is often found in the “contact us” section of a website.

  5. Call or e-mail the company with your request. Websites, especially corporate websites, often have a section where you can send an e-mail. You should provide the following information:

    • The movie you want to show. (Example: Matrix)
    • Is your copy a DVD or a VHS tape? (Example: “We are renting a DVD copy of your great movie and showing it on a television monitor.”)
    • The place you are showing your movie. (Example: Alfred Lerner Hall Room 477 2920 Broadway New York, NY 10027)
    • The date you are showing your movie. (Example: December 7, 2005 at 8:00 pm)
    • The anticipated size of your audience. (Example: Either the room capacity or the expected attendance.)
    • Whether you are charging admission. (Example: Admission free to our group members.)
    • The name of your group. (Example: The ‘We Like to Show Movies’ Club Activities Board of Columbia-recognized group.)
    • Your name and contact info
    • Your adviser’s name and contact info with a fax # (Example: xxxxxxxxxx, Adviser Telephone number: 212-854-XXXX Student Development & Activities 515 Alfred Lerner Hall, MC 2601 2920 Broadway New York, NY 10027 FAX: 212-854-6972)
  6. If the copyright owner grants your request, it will generally be for a fee in the range of $300.00 - $500.00. If the copyright owner denies your request, you will not be able to show the film in question at the event.

University Property
If University property is damaged during the student organization’s event, the repair costs will be passed on to the organization.
Public Safety and Security: Requirements and Costs
Certain events require additional security and assistance from University Public Safety. The rate for security coverage is approximately $75 per hour, and a 4-hour minimum charge applies at all times. Public Safety guard service can be requested via the Service Request Web Form at least two (2) business days in advance. For guard services needed in one business day or less, a request must be submitted to AND the Public Safety operations desk at 212-854-2797.
Special Event Cleaning: Requirements and Costs
All special events on campus that include catering must include a scheduled cleaning following the event. The rate for special events cleaning is approximately $55 per hour, and a 1-hour minimum applies. Special event cleaning services can be requested of Facilities via the Service Request Web Form at least two (2) business days in advance. Furniture rental and Public Safety services can also be included in the same request, in the case that both are needed. For events taking place in two business days or less, please email An estimate of costs can be requested at the time the form is submitted; rates for services as well as costs and types of available rental furniture are linked in the request form page.
Additional Outreach

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.

  1. Private Sector
    If the student organization is planning to host a program on any of the following topics, please send the information (e.g., the date, firm name(s) and speakers) to the Office of Development and Alumni Affairs at
    • Recruiting/Job Search/On-Campus Interviewing
    • Interviewing and Networking skills
    • Professional Development and On-the-Job Issues
    • On-Campus Networking Receptions
    • Resumes for Private Sector Jobs Please note, the Office of Development and Alumni Affairs schedules annual meetings in the late summer/early fall with student organizations that actively plan career-related programming.

  2. Public Interest
    Please contact in the Office of Development and Alumni Affairs as far in advance as possible to coordinate any of events listed below:
    • Public Interest/Public Service
    • Walking Tours, Site Visits

  3. Alumni
    If a student organization is inviting alumni to participate in an event or need suggestions of alumni to contact, they should email in the Office of Development and Alumni Relations.
Find below a summary of the different ways to pay a vendor on the student organization’s behalf. Not all payment methods may be used in all situations; therefore, student organizations are strongly encouraged to consult with the Events Office in advance of the event so that they may provide more details.
Contracts and Agreements

A student may not sign a contract on behalf of student organizations or the University.

Master Agreements
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:

  • Food and alcohol will be served at the event and 29 or more attendees are expected.
  • Food will be served at the event and 29 or more attendees are expected.
  • The event involves an activity that raises issues of physical safety.

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.

Purchase Order
A purchase order (PO) is used to place larger orders with vendors for materials, parts, supplies, equipment, repairs, services, and consultant services. 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.
An invoice prepared and submitted by a vendor can be paid by GSAPP. Please note that 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 the Finance Office.
An honorarium payment is a gratuitous payment to a lecturer or a professional person outside the University community (not a University faculty, staff member, or student) as an expression of thanks. It is taxable income and is reportable to the Internal Revenue Service. Please contact the GSAPP Events Office to request an honorarium payment.
Before engaging a new vendor, the student organization should inform them of the University’s billing procedures and time constraints in payment. Those procedures and constraints are listed in the following sections. Additionally, before committing to incurring an expense, the student organization budget must have the approval of the Associate Dean of Academic and Student Affairs.

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:

  • Nature of Business (e.g. photographic services, reimbursement of travel expenses, etc.)
  • Company Name
  • Address
  • Contact Person
  • E-mail Address (of contact person)
  • Telephone Number (of contact person)
  • A completed and signed 2018 W9 form
Invoice (for approved vendors only)

The student organization officer must provide all of the following to process payments to a vendor:

  • Coversheet signed by the Associate Dean of Academic and Student Affairs.
  • An invoice addressed to GSAPP (to the attention of the student organization) that describes the goods or services to be provided and an itemized price list. The invoice must contain the company logo, address, date, invoice number, and the specific amount of total purchase.

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

Check Requests

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:

  • Compensation for University employees
  • Travel expenses or advance
  • Purchases properly processed through the GSAPP Finance Office or that require purchase orders (e.g., equipment, supplies, entertainment, website creation, DJs or bands, performing artists, etc.) as well as an invoice
  • Personal service vendors (consultants)
Purchase Order

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:

  • Graphic Designers
  • Video Editors
  • Photographer/Videographer
  • Leasing/Rentals
  • Software/licensing
  • Translation and interpreters on campus
  • Catering on campus
  • Business and Strategic Consultants/Speakers
  • Musicians/DJs/Performing Artists
  • Promotional Items (orders of $2,500 or more)

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.

Emergency Contacts
CU Public Safety 212-854-5555
Medical Services 212-854-7426 * After hours, press 4
Counseling and Psychological Services 212-854-2878
Sexual Violence Response 212-854-HELP (4357)
GSAPP Administrative Office
University Services
Confidential University Resources