Controversial & High Risk Events

Some events that take place on campus may be considered controversial or high risk. Even if you do not believe your event may fit into one of these categories, it's best to seek advice about your event planning process.

Q.  Why do “controversial” events need an Event Registration Form?

A. Cornell University values expression of a wide range of viewpoints and does not shy away from events that may stimulate expression of a variety of viewpoints.  Cornell does need to be prepared, however, when a controversial event is planned to maintain the safety of the participants in the event, any visitors or speakers, and the larger community. 

Q.  Is my event considered “controversial”?

A.  A “yes” answer to any of the queries below indicates your event may be controversial and you must file an Event Registration Form.  These questions are intended to be interpreted broadly.  Consider people involved, topics, as well as other factors.

  • Has a similar event caused any form of disruption at Cornell in the past?
  • Has a similar event caused any form of disruption on another campus?
  • Has a similar event been characterized as controversial or problematic by any media?
  • Are there historic reasons why there may be opposition to the event?
  • Has there been litigation, including a Supreme Court case, connected to the topics of the event?
  • Does your gut tell you this event might be controversial?

Q.  Is my event considered “high risk”?

A.  Events might be high risk for a variety of reasons.  The Event Management Planning Team (EMPT) works with groups to mitigate risk when possible; some events are just too risky to hold.  If your event has any of the following components, it may be considered risky and you must file an Event Registration Form.

  • Flames, whether burning a dragon or using a propane tank or matches;
  • Large crowds expected;
  • Similar events have had problems at Cornell or on other campuses;
  • Event is controversial;
  • Renting equipment such as inflatables or tents;
  • Sponsoring an event that is open to the public and/or may include guests under the age of 18;
  • Events that continue past 11:00 pm (i.e. late night events);