Students and Registered Student Organizations (RSOs) at the University of Houston each carry the responsibility of following the University of Houston rules and regulations, local, state, and federal laws. Below are several important policies that apply to RSOs and their events. For complete information on the various policies, please refer to the specific policy’s website.
The Student Handbook published annually by the Dean of Students (DOS) Office serves as a resource to faculty, staff, and students. It details important University policies relating to a variety of topics such as Academic Honesty, Student Life Policies, as well as Organizations Policy. The Organizations Policy is reprinted throughout this RSO Resource Guide.
The University of Houston’s philosophy on hazing is:
“The University of Houston believes that true human development can best occur in an atmosphere of social and ethical responsibility. The University views responsible pre-initiation activity as a positive educational approach to preparation for student organization membership. The University views hazing activities as not contributing to the positive development or welfare of the individual. Therefore, the University of Houston recognizes acts of hazing as irresponsible, intolerable and inconsistent with the principles of higher education and basic human development and may be illegal.”
The burden to ensure that student organization activities are acceptable under this policy rests with the student organization. Questions regarding the acceptability of a proposed student organization activity should be discussed with a staff member in the Center for Student Involvement (CSI), Center for Fraternity and Sorority Life, or Dean of Students (DOS) Office. The Center for Student Involvement upholds the University policy and does not tolerate any hazing activities by RSOs.
“The University of Houston is committed to fostering a learning environment where free inquiry and expression are encouraged. The University expects that persons engaging in organized expressive activities will demonstrate civility, concern for the safety of persons and property, respect for University activities, respect for those who may disagree with their message, and compliance with University policies and applicable local, state, and federal laws. The University of Houston maintains its right to place reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions on organized expressive activities. Additionally, any activities that are unlawful or materially and substantially disruptive to the normal operations of the University including classes and University business activities will not be tolerated. The purpose of this policy is to provide for organized expressive activities to be conducted on the grounds of the University in a manner consistent with these principles. Groups or individuals engaging in disruptive activities or failing to comply with University policies and applicable local, state, and federal laws may face immediate removal from the campus and other appropriate actions by University officials and University police.”
RSOs need to complete the Freedom of Expression (FOE) Organized Expressive Activity Description Form for all outdoor events with the exception of the PGH Breezeway. Certain areas on campus are considered “reservable” such as Lynn Eusan Park, Butler Plaza, and the Student Center Satellite Patio/Hill. All other locations on campus require University Sponsorship Form.
The rules for amplified sound on campus are a part of the Freedom of Expression Policy. Amplified sound means any sound that is louder than a conversation. It does not only refer to electronically amplified sound.
Under the Freedom of Expression Policy, student organizations can set up displays or use structures, but there are size limitations that apply:
The University policy states that, “The President or designated University representative shall have the authority to take such steps to prevent expressive activities that materially interfere with the educational mission of the University. Such activities include, but are not limited to the following:
Freedom of Expression Policies Section X. Emergency Authority. Retrieved from University of Houston Manual of Administrative Policies and Procedures website.
The University of Houston’s philosophy on Alcohol is listed below. A summary of the policy is listed below and the full policy can be found at: here.
“As an institution interested in the intellectual, physical, and psychological well-being of the campus community, the University of Houston deems it important to curtail the abusive or illegal use of alcoholic beverages. All members of the University of Houston community and guests are required to comply with federal, state, and local laws regarding the distribution, possession, and consumption of alcoholic beverages.
Recognizing an educational responsibility, the University has developed these and other regulations to promote students' responsible decision-making and behavior relative to the use of alcoholic beverages. Distribution procedures must be followed for on-campus events by student organizations and others sponsoring the events for students. The Dean of Students is responsible for interpreting these procedures and for developing guidelines for its implementation. Registering to distribute alcoholic beverages on the campus of the University of Houston is a privilege granted to registered student groups and departments. Failure to adhere to university procedures may result in the denial of future registration and disciplinary action.”
Alcoholic beverages may be distributed in areas approved for programming within designated hours. Space and facilities for the event must be reserved through the appropriate university channels. Alcoholic beverages may be dispensed at campus events between 5 p.m. and 12 a.m. on Monday through Friday and between noon and 12 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. For special campus-wide events, the Dean of Students or designate may permit earlier distribution.
Any event at which alcoholic beverages are to be consumed pursuant to this policy may not have that consumption be the main focus of the event. Any publicity for the event may refer to such beverages only as incidental to the event. Advertising will not portray drinking as a solution to personal or academic problems. Also, it may not promote gimmicks or games (i.e., "one charge for all you can drink," "chugging contests," "drink and drown contests," etc.), which enhance irresponsible drinking.
Persons responsible for distributing alcoholic beverages must:
Students shall not:
Alcohol Distribution Registration for Student Events webpage. Retrieved from Alcohol Policy website.
The RSO Indoor Event Policy pertains to those on‐campus events sponsored by a registered student organization at the University of Houston meeting two of the three following criteria:
Student organizations may travel to attend programs and conferences outside of the University. In order to maintain safety and information about student travel, the University of Houston has created a policy to help gather information regarding the travel plans.
The policy applies to travel by one or more students presently enrolled at the University of Houston, and where such travel meets the following criteria: travel that is in excess of 25 miles to a University organized and sponsored activity or event where such activity or event is either a) funded by the University, and the travel is undertaken using a vehicle owned or leased by the University or b) is required by a student organization registered at the University.
RSOs whose travel falls under the policy should review the policy and procedures outlined in the University policy. Depending on the funding source for the trip, RSOs will have to complete one of two procedures.
Student organizations that are traveling outside of the US for organizational purposes are required to go through the Learning Abroad Department.
Students can also get more information on Student Service Organizations Abroad.
Student organizations should submit a Travel Roster. The Travel Roster must include the traveler’s name, student ID number, the name and phone number of an emergency contact person, date(s) of travel, mode of travel, destination, purpose of travel, and a notation indicating that the traveler has signed and submitted a University Release and Indemnification Agreement. The completed Travel Roster must be signed by the dean or director of the university, college or department sponsoring the travel. One copy of the Travel Roster should be kept by the college/department sponsoring the travel and one copy of the Travel Roster should be received in UHDPS Dispatch prior to travel.
The Bayou Oaks Townhouse Event Policy pertains to (1) registered social events sponsored by fraternities/sororities within their townhomes and (2) fraternities/sororities hosting off-campus social events with the intent to transport attendees to/from Bayou Oaks.
The New Member Presentation Policy pertains to the planning and coordination of new member presentations by fraternities and sororities.