University phases in limited in-person events

Comets attend a socially-distanced concert event on campus last March.




The decline in COVID-19 cases and increase in vaccinations across Texas and on campus have prompted UTD to slowly reintroduce in-person events at a limited capacity.

Student organizations that would like to participate in these events must fill out an application and work with university administration to get approval. Applications opened on Feb. 15, and clubs must be registered with the university and have a full-time faculty or staff member as an advisor – known as the Responsible University Official (RUO) – in order to qualify. Tineil Lewis-Moore, assistant director of Student Life Programs, said that the application is the first step in a multistep process.

“The organization must submit the application online through Presence 10 business days before the event date,” Lewis-Moore said. “We look at the application and look at what the students have requested before we push it to the next level of review. The final decision is made through the Dean of Students Office through the Special Events Risk Assessment form (SERA form), where [the Dean] is able to review and approve the application.”

Once the event is approved, the student organizer and the RUO will be asked to participate in a pre-event meeting with SOC and Student Union staff.

“We host the pre-event meeting to discuss the requirements and the university’s QR code check-in process,” Lewis-Moore said. “They then will work with the Student Union on logistics like tables, chairs, room setup and check-in for the room. That meeting can take anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes. Each event has a unique SERA form that can be used for the check-in process.”

The school is currently limiting in-person events to 10 people, which includes the staff advisor and any officers of the club putting on the event.

“There have been some requests for some grab-and-go and/or drop-off events or pickup events, where it does not require someone to stay for a full two hours,” Lewis-Moore said.  “Grab-and-go and pickup events may have more than 10 people, but not at the same time. We do recommend that the organization use some sort of scheduling technology tool, such as a Signup Genius, because we want to avoid gatherings.”

Asma Nasir, a healthcare studies freshman and event coordinator of the Photography Club, said she applied to host an in-person photoshoot.

“The application was very detailed,” Nasir said. “There was a form with questions about the meeting, what day it would be, the timing we wanted to reserve, room setup, what building we wanted to use and it even asked about backup times.”

The Photography Club, Nasir said, held their event in the Student Services Addition, where they had a socially distanced photoshoot. They decided to split the event into two days so that they could allow more people to participate.

“Everyone who helped organize the event (from the SOC) was really accommodating,” Nasir said.  “They even asked how we wanted the room set up and provided us with a projector and HDMI cables for the setup we needed.”

Right now, the university is only allowing certain spaces to be used for in-person events.

“We are only holding indoor gatherings in Student Union-controlled areas,” Lewis-Moore said. “Mainly we are using spaces in the Student Services Addition. There is also one spot in the Student Services Building. Most of the events that are contactless are in the parking lot. Safety is our first priority. We want to make sure that the students, RUO and all attending are safe.”

Nasir said she believes that the ability of the club to hold the in-person event was worth going through the application process.

“It’s hard to do an interactive event online. It was nice to be able to get together and share equipment and practice photography techniques,” Nasir said. “It was definitely worth it.”