Policy & Planning Resources

The below document outlines the questions and information you will be required to complete through the SERMA process. You will only be asked questions relating to the elements included in your event, e.g. if your event does not involve alcohol, you will not be asked questions related to alcohol.

Student Event Risk Management Process – Planning Document

Events and activities cannot be promoted until they are approved through the Student Event Risk Management Approval process. This includes social media marketing.

So plan your event early!

Events with Alcohol

Advertisement for events sponsored by recognized student organizations will make no direct reference to the specific availability of alcoholic beverages.

Under no circumstance will any organization or student accept sponsorship or endorsement for an event or program from a company that identifies itself as a manufacturer or distributor of alcoholic beverages.

Brock University will only consider events that involve alcohol when appropriate and safe and when facilitated by Third Party Vendors/Caterers who are Smart Serve certified. Drinking may not be the main focus of the event.

For events on-campus, consumption of alcohol is permitted only in licensed locations and during licensed, approved events. Selling, serving or delivering alcohol on campus is strictly prohibited unless approved and arranged in advance by Brock University Dining Services or BUSU.

If you are hosting an off-campus event, you must ensure the venue is properly licensed and that all serving staff are Smart Serve certified.

In addition to all laws, events with alcohol must adhere to the following rules and regulations:

  • No free tickets for alcoholic beverages may be provided as part of admission to an event and alcohol cannot be provided for free (i.e. no open bar) with the exception of a bottle of wine at the table for dinner events.
  • Alcoholic beverages must not be sold below the market price.
  • Non-alcoholic beverages must always be available at reasonable prices.
  • No extra strong or extra-large drinks may be served (e.g., doubles, 2-for-1 drinks, shooters).
  • Drinking games are strictly prohibited at any University sanctioned event – on or off-campus.
  • No person is to be served who appears to be intoxicated.
  • Food should be available for the duration of the event. Food can be free or offered at a cost.

Event Monitors

All events where alcohol will be served must have one Event Monitor for every twenty-five guests.

Event monitors must sign an Event Monitor Contract and agree to:

  1. Not consume any alcohol, or other substances, before or during the event until all participants have departed
  2. Ensure that no participant over consumes alcohol or uses illegal narcotics.
  3. Monitor crowd behaviour and notify the primary event organizer or security of unsafe activities or environments.

Advertising Events with Alcohol

Advertisement for events sponsored by recognized student organizations will make no direct reference to the specific availability of alcoholic beverages.

Under no circumstance will any organization or student accept sponsorship or endorsement for an event or program from a company that identifies itself as a manufacturer or distributor of alcoholic beverages.

All activities or events involving the use of live animals* on campus require permission and special consideration. When animals will be used or present as part of the event, the safety and welfare of both the animals and the participants is paramount.

Things you will need to consider when involving animals in your event:

  • How will the animals be used at the event? Display only or will participants be handling or petting the animals?
  • How many animals will be present and for how long?
  • Who is supplying the animals? Are they are reputable company? Have you checked references or visited their facilities?
  • Who is responsible for caring for the animals during the event? Does the company provide trained professional staff at the event? Or are you responsible?
  • Is the venue appropriate for the animal? Crowds, bright lights, loud noises – can impact the safety and welfare of the animal
  • Hygiene and safety equipment will be required on site. Make arrangements to have an adequate supply of hand soap or similar cleansing agents for participants, as well as an required safety equipment, including first aid kits, personal protective equipment, containment arrangements, welfare arrangements and emergency contacts for example.
Insurance and Certification

If bringing animals on-campus, you will need to obtain a certificate of general liability insurance for at least $1 million, with Brock University listed as additional insured.

In addition, you must obtain documentation that the animals are in good health and have been vaccinated against diseases. This could be a certificate, or a letter signed by the owner of the animals certifying this information.


* This does not include Service Animals who may be present at events with students/participants.

Events to raise awareness and funds for charities and non-profit organizations can be a great way to show support for the community; but there are few things you need to keep in mind when you are planning your event.

How will funds be raised?

Student organizations can raise funds and collect donations for charities in a variety of ways. Some examples include auctions (e.g., silent auction, virtual auction) or drives (e.g., food drive, clothing drive). Be sure to review the Gambling, Lottery or Prizes section below, as important information is provided about the types of fundraising activities which may constitute gambling and/or a lottery.

How much will your event cost you? Will you be donating the proceeds of the event or the profits?
  • “All proceeds go to … “: Any money that has been raised or donated MUST go to charity, regardless of whether your event costs have been paid or not.
  • “All profits go to … “: Any money that has been made after the payment of all event costs must go to charity.
How will you get the funds to the organization?

Charity funds should never be deposited in the personal bank account. Consider when and how you will transfer the funds – the sooner the better when you are dealing in cash. We strongly recommend that funds be collected by the charity online where possible and/or delivered to the organization as soon as possible after the completion of the event.

What accountability measures do you have in place?

Student organizations must account for the total income received from the sales goods, services, ticket sales, or registration/admission fees and show that the total income was appropriately managed and deposited with the charity/non-profit organization.

Gambling, or conducting a lottery without license is an offence under the Criminal Code (Canada).

The Criminal Code provides an exemption from the general prohibition against gambling, allowing eligible charities and religious organizations to conduct and manage lotteries under the authority of a license by the appropriate authority – either by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO), or in some cases the AGCO has delegated authority to municipalities to approve and license certain lottery events.

Licenses are issued through the municipality, for example the City of St. Catharines, through an application process. Groups must meet eligibility criteria as defined by the AGCO before they can apply.

If you plan to conduct any of the below activities considered to be a lottery or gambling – you must meet with a member of the SERMA team. Contact serma@brocku.ca

What is a Lottery?

In simple terms, a lottery can be defined as any scheme which has the following three components: a prize; a chance (to win the prize); for the payment of a fee or other consideration (like a donation or staking something of value).

Therefore, a lottery exists if money is paid or some other consideration is given for a chance to win a prize.

Examples include:

  • 50/50 draws
  • Bingo with prizes or cash
  • Raffles or draws
  • Penny sale auction
  • Games of chance
  • Games of mixed chance and skill
What is not considered a lottery?
  • Door prizes – if entry into the prize draw is included in the entrance ticket, this not considered a raffle and is allowed without a license
  • Games of skill or competitions of skill with prizes

Games of skill, are defined as skills games and competitions with zero element of chance. Checkers, chess, bowling, tennis, and golf are examples of games of skill.  Games of skill do not fall within the definition of a lottery and can be legally provided.  Note: it must be a game of pure skill with zero chance involved (see below for mixed skill and chance)

Games of chance, sometimes called “mechanical games,” do not involve any element of skill. These include raffles, bingo, wheels of fortune or 50/50 draws. These types are games require a license.

Games of mixed skill and chance, combine both elements. Poker and other card games are an example – they are games of skill but also an element of chance (the dealing of the cards). These types are games require a license.

Note, for all types of games, it is only considered a lottery if money is paid or some other consideration is given for the chance to win a prize. If, for example, your club would like to host a free poker event, where no money is paid or other considerations are exchanged for the chance to win, this is not considered a lottery or gambling.

Who is an external speaker or entertainer?

The term ‘ external speaker or entertainer ’ is used to describe any individual or organization who is not a student or staff member of the university or students’ union. This includes any individual who is a student or staff member from another institution or students’ union.

Why does an external speaker change the risk of the event?

Depending on the nature, size and location of the event, and the nature and profile of the external speaker, the risk of the event could increase. As an example, a high profile speaker such as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau would require a high degree of security and control at the event.

Although most speakers are uncontroversial, some will express contentious, even inflammatory or offensive, views. In some cases, their presence on campus may be divisive. The University supports freedom of expression on campus, but there are limits to free expression on Brock campus and at Brock events. We want to ensure that any events with external speakers are carried out in a way that is safe, and in accordance with existing University policies, including the Freedom of Expression Policy, the Student Code of Conduct and the Respectful Work and Learning Environment Policy.

SERMA considerations for events with external speakers

When planning an event with an external speaker or entertainer, you will need to consider and submit the following through the SERMA process:

  • The name and organization (if applicable) of the speaker or entertainer
  • The nature of the content to be shared by the speaker
  • Links to professional profiles or website, if available
  • Has the speaker ever been refused a platform to speak (at Brock or elsewhere)?

If the speaker or the subject matter is controversial, or is likely to attract a protest or negative media coverage, you will need to meet with the SERMA team.

Food Regulations
  • Events being held in the Brock University Students’ Union Student-Alumni Centre shall be subject to food restrictions as determined by BUSU. Clubs should consult with the appropriate body before proposing an event requiring food in the Student-Alumni Centre.
  • Events being held on the main University campus in any building other than in the BUSU Student-Alumni Centre are subject to food restrictions as determined by Brock University Hospitality Services.
  • Homemade food is not permitted at sanction events. All food served at events must be from a licensed kitchen or grocery store
  • You must ensure food can be stored at appropriate temperatures, especially if it will be served over a long period of time
Food and Inclusivity

Food is a great way to attract event attendance – who doesn’t love free food?! However, it is important to be aware of how food may make an event less inclusive for certain groups in the community.

Many members of the university community have important dietary restrictions related to their religious or cultural background and others have common allergies that should be taken into consideration when planning the menu, preparation, and serving food at events.

  • Ensure that the food served at your event accommodates diverse needs. Consider allergies and dietary restrictions of participants.
  • Use labels to identify ingredients and allergens
  • Ensure that vegetarian and non-vegetarian food is separated and that separate utensils are also used for serving
  • Make sure food is an accessible spot for all participants
Food Safety

Having food provided by a certified, licensed, third party vendor, is the best way to ensure that all federal, provincial and municipals laws are followed.

You can learn more about Food Safety at niagararegion.ca/living/health_wellness/food-safety

  • Keep food in separate and clean areas
  • Ensure food can be stored at appropriate temperatures, especially if it will be served over a long period of time

Events and activities that will have, or have the potential to have, 200 or more participants would be considered large-scale and require special consideration and additional planning as they inherently carry greater risk.

For on-campus events, Campus Security will be notified of all large events and may require additional details, information, or have additional security concerns that must be addressed. This will be communicated to you by a member of the SERMA team.

Planning Large Events

It is important, especially when planning large events that crowd control strategies are devised to maintain control of the event and the environment. There is a great deal of information online that can help you create an effective and safe plan to handle a large crowd, especially in cases of emergency.

Part of your strategy should be having enough training volunteers, or professional security if necessary, to help monitor crowd behaviour and be able to handle or report an incidents or act in case of emergencies. It is even more critical with large events that you have a plan to deal with fires or other emergencies, especially those that might require evacuation.

You will also need to consider how you will control entry to your event – what is the venue’s capacity and how will be manage or monitor the various entries to ensure capacity is not exceeded. Are there enough entrances and exits to facilitate a large number of participants arriving or leaving efficiently?


If your event is virtual, please see the Virtual / Online Movie section below

It is important that any group screening media as part of its activities ensure that it is doing so legally. The law in this area is complex and has evolved with changes to the Copyright Act and in the jurisprudence, however, as a general principle where a movie, television program, or other audiovisual material is shown in a public setting* as a part of a social or recreational event, a public performance license will be required. Even if the event is free or “not for profit” a license will be required.

Having a personal account for a streaming service (i.e. Netflix, Disney+) or renting a movie online is NOT a license to screen a movie publicly!

*A public performance is any type of movie/media presentation that occurs outside of a private dwelling (your house, condo or apartment) or for audiences others than family and friends. Any type of presentation occurring outside of your home, or within your home but shown to audiences other than small groups of friends and family will be considered a public performance (for example, if you show a movie in your backyard to one hundred people, that too would be considered a public performance.)

Obtaining a Public Performance License

The Brock University Library provides access to several streaming video collections for personal home use, however, our license with Audio Cine Films also covers screenings for student groups and clubs in accordance with the below rules and regulations:

  • Movies can only be screened on-campus (not online) at approved student and student club related events
  • Audience must be Brock students, staff and/or faculty
  • Groups cannot charge a fee to view the movie – all events must be free of charge
  • License agreement does not cover outdoor movie events, fundraisers, or events involving the general public

Note that Brock licenses with Criterion and Kanopy do NOT allow group use or public viewing of any kind – only individual use/personal home use.

If the film you wish to screen is not covered by AudioCine, it is the responsibility of the groups themselves to obtain the appropriate license.

Netflix Educational Screenings of Documentaries

Some Netflix Original educational documentaries are available for one-time educational screenings. Visit https://help.netflix.com/en/node/57695 for details.

For the purposes of risk management, we have outlined five levels of physical activity/risk:

LevelActivity Examples
Very Lowe.g. sitting, meetings, watching movies, playing board games
Lowe.g. walking, badminton, golf, frisbee
Moderatee.g. dodgeball, dancing, skating, running, swimming
Highe.g., axe throwing, archery, ice hockey, paint ball, rock climbing, canoeing
Extremee.g. race car driving, skydiving, bungee jumping, Whitewater rafting

You will need to determine the level of physical activity (and thus the level of physical risk) of your event.

For any events with moderate to high physical activity, you be expected to take steps to mitigate the risk of harm and have safety plan in place to deal with incidents or injuries should they occur.

If your group intends to engage in an activity deemed to be a extreme level of physical activity/ physical risk, you will need to meet with a member of the SERMA team before proceeding.

Informed Consent Waivers

All participants must sign a waiver prior to participating in high physical activity / physical risk events.

Signed waivers can be delivered to the Student Life Involvement Commons MC A204 after the event.

The University encourages and supports an environment open to many voices in support of the discovery, creation and sharing of knowledge and ideas. Brock has formalized its commitment to the free exchange of ideas and respect for diverse points of view in its Freedom of Expression Policy, which you can review at https://brocku.ca/free-speech

No activity or event will be disallowed solely because it expresses potentially controversial, or objectionable or offensive thoughts, ideas, opinions or beliefs. Freedom of expression does not include any unlawful speech (such as hate speech, threats, harassment or defamation) or acts that unreasonably or unduly interfere with the proper operations of the University; and those who engage in expression on campus are expected to comply with existing University policies, including the Student Code of Conduct and the Respectful Work and Learning Environment Policy.

Events that involve potentially controversial content may require consultation to ensure the event or activity is conducted in manner that is lawful, respectful and in accordance with University policies.

Events and activities that involve the use of fire or potentially hazardous materials require special consideration and additional planning as they inherently carry greater risk.

The more common dangerous or hazardous materials could include:

  • The use of fire, for example events involving camp fires
  • Sharp objects, for example knifes or axes for an axe throwing event
  • Potentially toxic or hazardous chemicals, like paint or spray paint in crafts or paint parties

Especially with since Brock is located within UNESCO designated Biosphere Reserve, outdoor events involving potentially dangerous materials may require extra consultation with Facilities Management and/or Environment Health and Safety.  Contact serma@brocku.ca for more information.

When participants will be travelling for or as part of an event, the first consideration is who is organizing the transportation? Is the travel organized by your group, or are participants responsible for their own transportation to and from the event venue – for example via personal car, taxi or public transportation (buses, trains, subways).

If you group is arranging transportation, regardless of the mode of transportation, you have added responsibly for ensuring that participants arrive and leave the event safely. Some things to consider:

  • take attendance prior to boarding any mode of transportation to ensure no participant is left behind
  • make travel arrangements for attendees with special needs
  • ensure that the arrival/departure times are known by all attendees and have plan to connect with attendees if they miss the departure time
  • make sure attendees have an event organizer’s contact information in case of emergencies
  • ensure that attendees bring health card and identification

Charter Buses

When chartering a bus, you will be required to assign at least one bus monitor for each bus.

Bus monitor will be required to sign a Bus Monitor Contract, and will be responsible for ensuring:

  • All participants have signed travel waivers before loading the bus.
  • No alcohol is brought onto the bus and that all alcohol will be confiscated.
  • No intoxicated participant is allowed to board the bus going to the event.
  • Every person is aware of the time the bus will be leaving the venue.
  • Every effort is made to ensure all participants are on the bus before it departs the venue.
  • All participants are aware of the procedure to be followed in the event that they miss the bus

Car Rentals / Carpooling

If you or your participants are driving other participants during your event, you must ensure that all drivers are legally able to drive and are fully insured.

When renting a car, we highly recommend buying insurance that will reduce your deductible to $0.

All events and student organizations must adhere to all Brock University and Brock University Students’ Union policies.

This includes, but is not limited to:

A full list of Brock University policies can be found at brocku.ca/policies

A list of Brock University Students’ Union policies and by-laws can be found at brockbusu.ca/government/documents

Virtual / Online Events

For more information about public performance licenses see the Movie/TV section above

Streaming movies, television shows, or sporting events through platforms such as Zoom, MS Teams, Discord, or LifeSize, for other attendees to watch without a streaming specific public performance license is in violation with copyright law. Note that most public performance licenses, including the Brock University Audio Cine Films license, do not allow for online streaming of movies for others. This requires a separate license.

However, there are some options to allow a group of persons with legal access to the content to watch it together, such as Netflix Party/Teleparty. These platforms/add-ons allow users who have access to the content to watch the media together (in-sync) and discuss throughout the movie.

As an alternate to Netflix Party/Teleparty, each attendee of your event may purchase their own pass to rent, stream, or buy a film or television show (e.g., through the Cineplex Odeon website), and then use platforms such as Zoom, MS Teams, Discord, or LifeSize to discuss the film. Notes that each user must be watching it independently and not through someone streaming it from their computer for others to view.

Using platforms such as Zoom, MS Teams, Discord, or Lifesize to facilitate discussions about the movie, television show, or sporting event, is not an act of piracy, and is a permitted activity that may coincide with a virtual movie, tv show, or sporting event.

Netflix Educational Screenings of Documentaries

Some Netflix Original educational documentaries are available for one-time educational screenings. Visit https://help.netflix.com/en/node/57695 for details.

Zoombombing is a term to describe unwanted, disruptive intrusions, by uninvited guests or strangers into a video conference call or online event – and it is not limited to just Zoom. Incidents of Zoombombing are not just intrusive but can potentially cause a great deal of psychological harm to your participants. While it is difficult to 100% prevent these attacks, it is essential to take all steps you can to keep your participants safe and to have a plan to deal with an incident, should it occur.

Please take the time to research your event platform to ensure you have taken all necessary steps to secure your event and that you have a detailed and specific plan in place to deal with intrusive or unwanted participants.

General Tips for all platforms 

  • Have a back-up link to a new virtual space to gather for your meeting or event and have a plan to send that link directly to the appropriate participants (like via email or DM) 
  • Do not publish your meeting or event link to the public. Instead, gather RSVP information to directly distribute your meeting or event link to interested participants only.  
  • Do not reuse meeting links that were shared with the public. When you need to have open public events use a new link for each meeting. 
  • Regardless of platform you are using, familiarize yourself with the mute and disable video functions. During the meeting, these features can be turn off and on; so, if a participant is sharing obscene content or being disruptive, be prepared to turn off their audio and camera. 

Using Zoom: 

  • Do not use your personal meeting ID. When creating a meeting, generate a random ID instead of using your personal one 
  • Set a meeting password when possible. If you are having an invite only or small group meeting, use this feature to make your event more secure 
  • Use the waiting room feature. When you turn this feature on, every participant must be approved before they can enter the meeting. 
  • Make sure that you have unchecked the Allow Participants to Unmute Themselves feature 
  • Turn off screen sharing for everyone but the meeting host/co-host unless participants really need to share their screen for your event 

Using Microsoft Teams 

  • Update the settings – don’t just use the defaults 
    • Lobby – change the Who can bypass the lobby setting and select People in my organization – this ensures that only users within Brock University can access the meeting directly, and others must be approved 
    • Screen Sharing – change the Who can present setting, by default it is set to everyone. Consider, who needs to present or share their screen during your meeting 

If you plan to record your event or meeting, it is important to gain consent from participants. All participants should be made aware that your event or meeting will be recorded. If a participant is not comfortable being recorded, they may opt to turn off their camera, or leave the virtual event altogether. You may also consider using a Photo Release form to gather participant permission to record your event or meeting.

Consider informing participants in your event or meeting description that the event or meeting will be recorded to prevent participants who may not be comfortable being recorded from attending the event or meeting. It may also be helpful to share the purposes of recording in your event description (e.g., to distribute to participants who could not attend, for marketing purposes) so participants are aware of what will be done with the recording of the event or meeting.