skip to main content
Home  /  Updates  /  General Updates  /  10/14/2021 - Undergraduate Guidelines for On-Campus Events

10/14/2021 - Undergraduate Guidelines for On-Campus Events

To: Caltech Undergraduate Students

From: Kevin Gilmartin, Vice President for Student Affairs

Re: Residential Social Activities and Events

Dear Undergraduate Students,

As you heard yesterday, with low case rates on campus through the opening weeks of term, Caltech will be moving forward with a measured relaxation of some current restrictions on campus social activities. I want to thank all of you for helping us get to this point. Student compliance with health and safety policies, with the vaccine requirement, and with weekly testing protocols has been a significant factor in the success of our return to campus residences and instruction. Your adherence to these preventative measures now allows for a meaningful increase in social activity and programming in our undergraduate residential communities.

The restriction on student access to the residences is immediately lifted. This means that all undergraduate students can enter all of the residences, including students who live off campus. Please understand that the primary aim of this change is to facilitate academic collaboration. Social events will be scaled up in a more gradual way.

Guests from outside the Caltech community, including friends, family members, and recent alumni, are still not allowed in the undergraduate residences. This is particularly important to observe as we prepare for the arrival of hundreds of campus guests this Saturday for the fall commencement event and related reunion weekend activities.

As yesterday's letter to the campus community indicated, social activities will be approved and managed through relevant administrative groups. For the undergraduate residences, the Office of Residential Experience (ORE) will be overseeing the expansion of student social activity and will work on event approval with student leadership. It is critical that our student communities continue to follow current health and safety policies, and that all formal social events are approved in advance through ORE.

Revised "Guidelines for On-Campus Events" will be posted soon, to take effect October 18. These will indicate that food and drink may only be served indoors in designated dining venues, and in student residences in accordance with specific protocols developed through ORE. Food and drink may still be served outdoors throughout the campus, in accordance with local health guidelines.

With all this in mind, here is a revised framework for student social activities and events that will be implemented from October 18:

  • The prior 25-person limit for student social events will increase to 50 students.

  • These social events can now be registered through the ORE event registration process and may take place in undergraduate residences and in other campus venues.

  • Informal student gatherings may take place in lounges, recreational rooms, tents, courtyards, and other common spaces, in accordance with current occupancy limits.

  • The allowance of food and drink at indoor residential social events (per the revised "Guidelines for On-Campus Events") is certainly a welcome development for students. However, health and safety should still be the priority in planning and in practice. Wherever possible, please continue to take social activities that involve food and drink outdoors, and when indoors, continue to wear a mask when not actively eating or drinking.

  • Alcohol can be served at outdoor registered social events, with professional bartenders who must be vaccinated.

  • Student groups, including house communities, can register and host off-campus events, and may be required to provide transportation. ORE will provide health and safety protocols for these events.

  • No guests from outside the community may attend student events at this time.

  • Although traditional interhouse parties cannot yet resume, ORE will work with student leadership and student groups to develop and support plans for large outdoor events, such as movie nights and concerts, that will allow the undergraduate student community to gather socially and more fully enjoy their return to campus.

In announcing these changes, I am grateful to the student leaders who have provided valuable feedback on the kind of policy changes that would be most meaningful for the undergraduate student community.

As indicated in yesterday's communication to the campus community, congregate living in our undergraduate residences continues to pose particular health and safety risks. It is important through this first stage of reduced restrictions that social activity continue to take place in accord with all current policy guidelines. It is also critical that students continue to participate in the twice-weekly COVID-19 testing program. Once Institute leadership has had an opportunity to assess the current scaling up of residential social activity, we will evaluate whether to move on with larger social events.