Event Safety

The Office of Risk Management participates in SMU's event risk review processes. We also review many of the contracts associated with campus events. 

While each event is unique, there are several key risk management concerns that always must be addressed.

Some events may require a Special Event Emergency Plan (SEEP). This is a formal, written plan developed by the event organizers that identifies potential emergency conditions at the event site and prescribes the procedures to be followed to minimize risk and prevent loss of life and property.

Every SEEP must be tailored to site-specific conditions and to the requirements of the agency/organization that owns or regulates the site of the event. Event planners should consider the scope of the event, the risks to spectators and participants, community impact, and the support (including personnel and logistics) required.

Event organizers should SMU Emergency Management for guidance prior to their event date.

Food safety is an integral part of many SMU events. The SMU Food Safety Program will highlight the appropriate food handling and preparation procedures.

The guidelines apply to any individuals and/or companies (i.e. SMU students, faculty, and employees or third party entities) that prepare and/or serve food at any university-related events. It is the responsibility of the event organizer to ensure their staff understands and follows the Food Safety Program. Copies of the Food Safety Program should be made available to the event staff.

SMU requires evidence of insurance for all third party vendors and contractors that want to operate in a special event on campus. The third-party is responsible for obtaining evidence of insurance (i.e. a Certificate of Insurance) and presenting it to the Office of Risk Management at least (3) days prior to the event taking place.

All special events are not organized in the same way, nor do they carry the same risks; this can lead to confusion about who should insure what. As a rule of thumb, if a third party is providing goods or services, or if a contract or purchase order is needed, that third party likely needs to demonstrate that they have insurance to cover their business. If there is a middleman involved, such as a promoter, they may also be required to carry insurance.

Risk Management should be consulted early in the process of event organization to clarify any insurance-related questions, particularly if a unique third party is utilized (such as an alligator handler).

Some events require a special event permit from the City of University Park, even if it is held on-campus.

A special event, defined by the City, is a temporary event or gathering, using either private or public property, including a circus, carnival, fair, parade or other event, display or sale of objects or art, and/or performance of music or celebration of event on a political, religious, or social issue which involves specific activities.

Visit the University Park Special Event Permits page for more details.

Tent Permits

Permits are required for some tents and other membrane like structures through the City of University Park Fire Marshal’s Office (Tents are any temporary membrane structure or canopy). Permits are required for a tent larger than 400 sq. ft. (i.e. – special events, carnivals, business promotions). The City will collect a $50 fee for each permit. Most SMU preferred tent vendors will take care of obtaining these permits on their own. However, if they do not, you will need to ensure the proper permits are obtained prior to the event. Please submit copies of all tent permits to Risk.Management@smu.edu.

To obtain a tent permit, please visit the University Park Fire Marshal’s website. 

SMU requires evidence of insurance for all third-party vendors and contractors that want to operate an event on campus.

The third-party is responsible for obtaining evidence of insurance (i.e. a Certificate of Insurance) and presenting it to the Office of Risk Management at least (3) days prior to the event taking place. If the third-party vendor does not maintain insurance regularly, they can procure a Tenant User Liability Insurance Program (TULIP) to meet SMU's insurance requirements.

A TULIP policy may be purchased for short-term, and even single-day events. Proof of insurance is sent directly to ORM once purchased. Below are step-by-step instructions to purchase this insurance.

In order for the university to recognize the event, the following list of insurance policy conditions must be met on the Certificate of Insurance:

  1. Go to the following web address: https://tulip.ajgrms.com/
  2. Click on the “Quick Quote” tab at the top of the page, or the “Get a Quote” link on the side of the page.
  3. Select the location of the event (as you select items, additional drop-down menus will appear):
    1. Texas or New Mexico
    2. Institution: Southern Methodist University
    3. Venue: SMU location (ex: SMU-in-Plano, SMU-in-Taos, McFarlin Auditorium, etc.)
  4. Select the date you need the coverage for (the date(s) of your event) and input the number of people you expect to be in attendance.
  5. Select the type of the event for which you are utilizing SMU space.
  6. If you are serving alcohol or have vendors or performers as part of this meeting, you may need additional coverage. 
  7. Review quote. ORM may review this upon request.
  8. Purchase insurance. Evidence of insurance will be sent directly to ORM upon purchase.


All special events are not organized in the same way, nor do they carry the same exposure. This can lead to confusion about who needs to insure what. As a rule of thumb, whenever the group is hiring outside people for an event, signing contracts, and charging for the event, it will likely need liability insurance to cover the event. Many outside groups carry their own insurance. Generally, if another party (i.e., a promoter) is responsible for the contracts and promotions, it carries its own liability limits. But because these distinctions can be confusing, liability coverage should be clarified in the early planning stages of the event. (Risk Management can advise you on this.)

Weather is very unpredictable, especially in Texas. Unless your event is extremely small, create an inclement weather plan with alternative plans. For more information, or for assistance in developing a plan, contact Emergency Management.