Fall Programming Guide

We are excited to have you back on campus! While much has changed within the last few months to ensure the health and safety of our campus community in mind, the Student Activities Office (SAO) is still a dedicated resource for you and your student group. There are new guidelines in place that will affect the normal operations of your group and alter or temporarily suspend some of your longstanding events. While it is imperative to adhere to these guidelines to care for those around us, we want you to feel empowered to remain active in the coming semester. 

We built this Fall 2020 Programming Guide especially to assist student groups in navigating what operations and programming can look like this coming semester. The purpose of this guide is to answer many common questions, ease the process of event planning, and encourage you to get innovative about what your student group can do.  

In this Programming Guide, you will find:

This will be a semester to find new ways to create and nurture our different and unique communities. We look forward to working with you through any challenges and successes that the fall may bring. Please know that you have the support of the Student Activities Office.

Temporarily Suspended Activities 

Unfortunately, there are some activities that healthy and safety experts believe hold significant risk for transmission of COVID-19 such that they will not be permitted for the Fall 2020 semester.  


Student Groups are unable to host events off-campus; this includes events held on Eddy Street, restaurants or locations in the local community, and any domestic or international trips. We encourage student groups to shop on campus and online when possible. For groups who wish to travel off campus to purchase supplies and materials, you must submit an SAO360 request and receive approval before traveling. 

Choir/Vocal Activities Indoors 
At this time all indoor singing and/or performances are not permitted. Virtual rehearsals may be used as a substitute. Outdoor performances are possible with modifications listed in the next section. 

Student Dances
Due to the nature of dances having close proximity, dances are not permitted for the Fall 2020 semester.

Department and student group sponsored runs/races are not permitted.

Concession Stands
The Student Group Concession Stand Program will not run for the Fall 2020 semester.  

Third Party Contracts & Speakers
Outside speakers/performers are not permitted for in person engagements, but can be contracted virtually. Student Groups are permitted to host Notre Dame faculty or staff as in-person speakers.  Local vendors that will drop off items or set up items, and have no or limited contact with students/staff (set up outdoor tents, deliver food) are permitted and must observe all cleaning, health and safety standards.

Modified Student Group Operation Requirements

Many typical student group activities may continue during the COVID-19 pandemic, but require modification to typical policies and procedures.  The modifications below have been established to supplement existing policies for student groups based upon best guidance from the University and public health experts.  They will be in place for the Fall 2020 semester, and reviewed for possible changes for Spring 2021 semester as we live with and learn more regarding COVID-19.  


Attendance & Attendance Tracking




Transfer of Cash and Distribution of Items


Event Promotion

Outdoor Events


Concession Stands

Events with Children

Musical Instrument Ensembles

Choirs/Singing Groups/Musical Theatre

Performance Arts Groups (Dance and Theater)

Club Sports

Alternative Programs

With the previous information in mind, the Student Activities Office has curated a list of alternative events and programming to consider. 

PLEASE NOTE: All student group events, meetings, practices or rehearsals, whether in-person, hybrid, or virtual will still need to be submitted, reviewed, and receive 100% approval in SAO360. If you have any questions about the listed events or have other ideas of events that you would like to explore, please contact either sao@nd.edu or your Student Group Activities Liaison



We encourage you to think of creative alternatives to activities that will not be permitted this semester. You can find some ideas listed below, and we encourage you to brainstorm other creative solutions with your group and your Student Group Activities Liaison

  • Instead of bake sales, you CAN: hold recipe book sales, sell food that is pre-packaged into individual serving sizes by the manufacturer, sell pre-prepared cooking kits
  • Instead of races, you CAN: organize walks or prayer services 
  • Instead of cooking food, you CAN: serve food that is pre-packaged into individual serving sizes by the manufacturer; ask restaurants to pre-package food into individual serving sizes 
  • Instead of service projects, you CAN organize: campaigns that bring attention to a cause, fundraising or social media campaigns, reflection/journaling/sharing on areas of systemic need
  • Instead of guest artists/speakers, you CAN: explore the range of on-campus artists and speakers, plan watch parties for virtual concerts, organize virtual masterclasses, invite virtual guest speaker and artists 
  • Instead of Indoor Rehearsals/Performances, you CAN: host outdoor rehearsals/ performances. Participants must wear a mask at all times, including when singing. Limit any shared items, including attire, binders, pencils, and paper.
  • Still need inspiration? Here are some more alternative events you CAN DO: yoga/meditation, social media giveaways/contests, trivia, arts and crafts, virtual speakers, movie watch parties


*This is not an exhaustive list of potential programming ideas for the Fall 2020 Semester. If you have ideas you would like to explore for your student group, please contact the Student Activities Office or your Activities Liaison.

Event Planning Timeline

5 Weeks Out

4 Weeks Out

3 Weeks Out

  • Submit Signed Contract to the Student Activities Office
  • Process Check Request through Student Union Bookkeeper
  • Confirm Equipment / Technical Requirements

2 Weeks Out

  • Re-read Contracts and Contract Riders
  • Confirm Supplementary SAO360 request Approvals
  • Begin Advertising
  • Begin Ticket Sales using LaFortune Student Ticket Box Office / Student Shop 

1 Week Out

  • Advertising Push
  • Confirm Needs with Venue
  • Confirm Volunteer Crew

Day of Event

  • Check in with Venue Staff
  • Check on Set-Up(s)
  • Check on Volunteer Management
  • Send check to vendor after performance 

Additional Resources

HERE - Notre Dame:

In efforts to provide our students, faculty, and staff the tools and information to return and operate safely on campus, Notre Dame has launched HERE to provide all of our campus community the tools they need to have a healthy and successful semester. 

SAO360 Requests:

The Student Activities Office is now accepting SAO360 requests from all of our student groups. We encourage you to submit your event requests earlier this year and to be mindful of longer approval times. As we will work to balance the needs of your request with University health and safety protocols.

Activities Night:

Activities Night has now been extended to a multi-day Activities Fair! While the format is altered, the annual event for students to explore our nearly 500 student groups to recruit new members on campus is still on. Check out our webpage for more details and mark your calendars. 

SAO Hours & Operations

The Student Activities Office will be open this fall semester! Our staff are available for in-person and virtual visits and meetings. We will be adhering to health and safety guidelines lines whenever in-person meetings are necessary. We will operate in regular business hours 8:30am - 4:30pm.  

Attendance & Attendance Tracking:

When a card scanner is unavailable to be used to check for attendance at an activity, please print out as many of these sheets as necessary, and have attendees sign in on this sheet. Please be prepared to supply this sheet for contract tracing, if needed

Frequently Asked Questions

We expect there to be questions regarding what programming and operations will look like this semester, so we’ve started compiling a list of frequently asked questions. This webpage will continue to grow in content and information. If you have more specific questions do not hesitate to contact us at sao@nd.edu or your Student Group Activities Liaison.

If we can't find an available room on campus, can we hold meetings/events off campus?
No; student groups are not permitted to host meetings or events off-campus during the Fall 2020 semester. All student group travel off-campus, including local travel, is suspended until further notice. Student groups are permitted to walk to Holy Cross College and Saint Mary’s College for events.

Can we hold meetings and events outside?
Yes; There are many reservable outdoor locations for your student group.  Outdoor grounds can be reserved by student groups and may also be used informally by students when there is no prior reservation. In collaboration with Campus Dining, the tents in front of the dining halls can be reserved for additional outdoor student programs between 9 pm and midnight Monday through Thursday and between 7:30 and midnight Friday through Sunday. To request one of these locations, please fill out an Outdoor Grounds Request on the SAO360 platform.

How do we know how many tables/chairs to order for outdoor events?
Seating areas need to provide spacing appropriately. Tables should be spaced six feet apart, with the following capacities:

  • 72” round: 3 people
  • 60” round: 2 people
  • 8’ rectangle: 2 people
  • 6’ rectangle: 1 person

Can we use the tents set up outside the dining halls and/or residence halls?
In collaboration with Campus Dining, tents have been installed on North and South quads as space that can be reserved for additional outdoor student programs or informal gathering. To request one of these locations, please fill out an Outdoor Grounds Request on the SAO360 platform.

Student groups are welcome to rent or provide their own tents for outdoor events, but must gain approval prior to the event through a completed SAO360 request. The University typically requires at least 4 weeks advance notice for approval to erect a tent.

What hours will the Student Centers be available for use?
Both Student Centers will be open seven days a week, but with modified hours to allow for extensive overnight cleaning. All hours are subject to change.

LaFortune Student Center Hours 
Monday - Friday 7:00am – 11:00pm
Saturday - Sunday 8:00am – 11:00pm

Duncan Student Center Hours
Monday - Friday 5:45 am – 12:00 am
Saturday – Sunday 8:00 am – 12:00 am

Can I schedule virtual meetings with SAO staff?
Yes; SAO staff will be available between 8:30 and 4:30 pm, Monday through Friday, both in-person and virtually. To schedule a meeting, please contact our office at sao@nd.edu, by calling 574-631-7308, or by stopping in to 315 LaFortune Student Center.

Can we hold in-person meetings?
All student groups will have the opportunity to meet in person in accordance with appropriate University public health practices and amended student group guidelines and protocols. Student groups may also choose to meet virtually, or utilize a hybrid model. Attendance must be taken at all in-person meetings and events to allow for contact tracing if needed.

Can we sell tickets to events?
The sale of physical tickets is suspended for the Fall 2020 semester. However, your student group can sell virtual tickets by submitting a request through SAO360.

Can we host a charity run/race?
Runs and races are prohibited for Fall 2020, but you are welcome to host a Walk. 

Can we host events with children present?
The Family Resource Center will continue to provide programming for Notre Dame student families. Your group may partner with FRC, but may not host events for children, in-person or virtual, on your own.

Do we need to provide our own hand sanitizer and disinfectant?
All indoor facilities are equipped with cleaning and sanitization supplies.  Hand sanitizer should be provided for outdoor events.

Can my group go off-campus to volunteer in the community?
No; student groups are not permitted to host meetings or events off-campus during the Fall 2020 semester. All student group travel off-campus, including local travel, is suspended until further notice.

Can my group host a movie, television show, or recorded theatrical performance screening--either in-person or virtual?
According to federal copyright law, all student groups are required to purchase and/or obtain the right to show movies, television shows, and any recorded performance for student group-sponsored/SAO approved events on campus--regardless of Netflix, DVD, or any streaming/media platform. The attached link can give you an overview of the law and how to obtain rights: https://www.mpaa.org/what-we-do/advancing-creativity/additional-resources/ The link has companies listed that sell public performance licenses to show movies to clubs. If you have additional questions about how to obtain the rights to a screening, please contact your group's Activities Liaison