Event Planning Frequently Asked Questions

EMS General Questions

What do I do if my EMS account is inactive?

Your account status is switched to “inactive” when you have not used it or made a reservation in the past semester. Send an email to ems-help@pitt.edu asking for your account to be reactivated. You will receive an email confirmation within a few days when it has been reactivated. Please do not reapply for an account.

I am an officer in two clubs. How can I reserve space on behalf of both?

Send an email to ems-help@pitt.edu. Please include the clubs you are involved in and what positions you hold.

How many people can have EMS access for my student organization?

Two students per organization. Please let us know when officer transitioning is happening so we can make sure the appropriate students have access to reserve on behalf of the organization.

What is the difference between “reserved time” and “event time”?

Reserved time is when the room is blocked in EMS and includes time for the building staff to set up your furniture. Event time is when you have access to the room. Please include personal set up and tear down time in your “event time”.

What does a “tentative” event mean?

An event that is in tentative status is an event that is currently on hold until the event host completes any additional tasks the reservation office needs. Reasons for an event to be tentative may be, but not limited to: completing a food form, completing a contract form, providing additional details to the reservations office, or submitting a room diagram. If your event is "tentative" the room is on hold and other groups cannot book that same space and time.

Where do I submit my event contract or contract waiver for review?

The Student Organization Resource Center (SORC) on the 8th floor of the William Pitt Union can help student groups with contracting all types of services. Visit their office or the contract’s page of the SORC sub-site. Academic Departments and the Division of Student Affairs should refer to their department’s Dean for all contract inquiries.

How do I request an information table?

You can request a table on our event reservation website, EMS. Once logged in, under the Create a Reservations link you should see options for Information Tables. Contact ems-help@pitt.edu if you do not see this option.

How do I request a banner?

Banner space must be reserved in EMS for the duration of the hanging. Space can be reserved for up to 14 days. Banner hanging costs approx. $314. Banners must be provided by event sponsor with appropriate dimensions and include grommets in all four corners

  • Fifth Avenue side of building
    • Dimensions: 12 ft long x 3 ft wide
Banners should be dropped off to the William Pitt Union information desk a minimum of one day before hanging Banner hanging should be coordinated by the event host and building management. Contact katytufts@pitt.edu to coordinate the date of hanging and tear down. Banners in the Quad can be reserved through Residence Life. Email Carly Ramer at reslife@pitt.edu to discuss this process.
I didn’t make a reservation and wish to use a room today, how do I go about requesting it?

Room requests should be made in advance through EMS. However, you can come to the information desk to make a last minute request for one of our open rooms. Day of requests are only open to individuals with a valid Pitt ID.

I need additional furniture for my upcoming event, how do I go about requesting it?

You can edit the furniture on EMS or you can contact the Reservations Office. Room set-ups are due 2 weeks before the event date.

What happens if the day of the event I do not like the way the room is set-up?

You can come to the information desk to speak to the Reservations Office or the Manager on Duty. Late requests for furniture changes are not guaranteed.

What is the max capacity of “X” room?

See our Max Capacities Guide on our Event Planning Resources webpage for information about room max capacities.

How do I cancel my reservation?

You can cancel your event through EMS or email the Reservations Office at ems-reservations@pitt.edu.

If I’m a vendor, how can I reserve space?

Vendors must submit a Vendor Request Form and pay a fee. Once you submit the form, you will work directly with the WPU Reservations Office.

Can I add an additional room to my reservation?

If your event is less than 21 days away, you can make an additional reservation in EMS for another space. If you are within a 21 day window, check to make sure the room is available and contact ems-reservations@pitt.edu to see if a last minute request can be made.

Can my event run beyond building hours?

If you would like to open the building early or stay beyond closing time for an event, you will need to contact the Reservations Office at ems-reservations@pitt.edu to make a formal request. Please note due to additional staffing there will be costs associated with this request.

Student Union Space Logistics

How do I know what room(s) to reserve that would meet my needs? 

It is important to know what the purpose of your event is and your expected attendance before putting in your EMS request. You can find room capacities on either EMS or on the Event Planning Resources webpage

How do I check if space is available? 

You can use the Browse feature on the left-hand side of the EMS website. You do not need to have an EMS account to browse for space. 

How do I check a rooms’ set up capabilities and capacities? 

See our Max Capacities diagrams.

I requested a space, now what? 

Within 2-4 weeks, you will receive an email from a staff member stating your next steps.  If you would like to check with the Reservations Office regarding the status of your event, please contact ems-reservations@pitt.edu no later than 2 weeks before an event.  Meeting rooms will be set as is. To see sample setups, stop by the Reservations desk Monday through Friday 9am-5pm or visit our Event Planning Resources webpage.

How do I schedule recurring meetings? 

First, select a template under the Create a Reservation tab. Next to where you select a date and time you will see a Recurrence button. There you will be able to set your reoccurring needs. Once you have confirmed your needs EMS will automatically select rooms that meet your needs and identify which dates have conflicts. You will then continue your selection process as normal and/or change the location for dates with conflicts. 

For additional information, refer to our video tutorial.

When do I need to use release waivers?

If your event is deemed as being “high risk” for participants, a release waiver is required through SORC. Visit the contracts page to access the release waivers and print copies for your participants to sign.

How can I collect money for an event or fundraiser?

There are several ways to collect money for an event or fundraiser.

The William Pitt Union Ticket Office provides cashboxes for departments or student organizations free of charge. Unless other arrangements are made, the cash box (alone or in conjunction with the ticket window) can contain small bills to make change. To request a cashbox, submit a Cashbox Request Form.

The William Pitt Union Ticket Office can sell tickets Monday through Friday from 10 am to 5 pm for departments or student organizations. All requests must be submitted online at the WPU Ticket Sales Request Form.

Do you provide tablecloths?

The student unions do not provide tablecloths. Pitt Catering Co. can provide tablecloths for your event, but there is a fee for the linens. Contact catering@pc.pitt.edu to request tablecloths and pricing.

Am I allowed to hang decorations at my event?

Event hosts are not allowed to hang or tape anything on the windows, pillars, walls, or doors. Easels can be rented from the student union's information desk to help with signage and some decor. Table decorations are allowed.

Events with Food

What are the types of food options for the unions?

Pitt Catering Co. - Pitt Catering Co. is the approved caterer on campus and has the right to bid for your business. See the Pitt Eats site for more details on catering options. Contact catering@pc.pitt.edu for catering requests.

Catering Exemption – Campus Catering is the approved caterer on campus and has the right to bid for your business. In the event you would like to pursue a company outside of the university, a Catering Exemption must be completed. Learn more about catering exemptions.

Donated Food (from Food Services) - The Department of Housing, Food Services, and Panther Central proudly donate Pepsi Products and food items to the University of Pittsburgh community. They attempt to support student programs and University events that are open to the University of Pittsburgh’s student body. Complete the Donated Food Services Request Form.

Snack Approval Form – if you are hosting a program in the WPU or OSC and would like to bring in snack-like items, visit the Snack Approval Form. Homemade food and potlucks are prohibited. Pizza, chips, pretzels, appetizer trays (veggie, fruit, dips), and items from a bakery are permitted.

Do I need to fill out a food form for an Info Table?

Yes, if you are handing out food at your table a snack approval form, bake sale form, or catering exemption must be submitted and reviewed.

What if I can’t afford campus catering?

We encourage groups to call Pitt Catering Co. to work with an event coordinator to see if there are alternative campus catering options for your budget. Sometimes catering can donate foods to lower the cost or match your budget. If catering does not meet your needs you can submit a catering exemption form for an outside caterer.

How can I host an event with cultural food?

You can submit a catering exemption form online. Catering exemptions are due 21 days before your event date. We would also recommend calling Pitt Catering Co. and speaking to an event coordinator to see additional cultural options.

How many tables do I need for food?

If you ordered through Pitt Catering Co., their contract will specify how many tables you need for food. Please indicate that number to the reservations office. If you are not working with Catering, the Reservations Office can provide a recommendation.

Why can’t I bring food into the academic classrooms?

The Cathedral of Learning and David Lawrence Hall are academic buildings and custodial staff are not provided to service the rooms for meetings and events.

If I buy it from Giant Eagle does it count as a snack?

If you buy pre-packaged items that do not need to be re-heated or cooked then it may count as a snack and a snack approval form must be submitted. Homemade food and potlucks are prohibited. Pizza, chips, pretzels, veggie, fruit, and hummus trays, and items from a bakery are permitted. Giant Eagle or Sam's Club prepared foods such as sandwiches, trays of chicken, potato salads, etc. are considered catering exemptions and will not be approved on a snack form.

Specialty Events

I want to host a dance in the student unions, what do I need to do?

The first step is to make a reservation for the space you need in EMS at least 4 weeks in advance. From there the Reservations Office will contact you regarding your next steps.

Can I have a food-eating contest?

No, food eating contests are prohibited.

Can I do a paint event or crafts?

Yes, please contact the Reservation Office at ems-reservations@pitt.edu to discuss logistics and clean up procedures.

Do you have a runway?

The William Pitt Union does have a runway for the Assembly Room. Please request a runway through your event description in EMS at least 3 weeks in advance. Stage builds are not guaranteed and subject to staffing.

Do you have pipe and drape?

We do not supply pipe and drape. Randy Schmotzer in Facilities Management will assist with furniture and event rentals. He can be reached at 412-624-8809. There will be a charge for any rentals.

What is your policy on showing movies or TV shows during an event?

Any organization or department wishing to show a movie or film in space controlled by the Reservations Office are required to purchase the appropriate licensing, regardless of admission fee. No room request will be approved until a copy of the license is received. The event host will need to provide the license for the movie, documentary, Ted Talk, or TV show to the Reservations Office via email at ems-reservations@pitt.edu at least 21 days ahead of the event.

For more information on obtaining a license and cost, please contact one of the film distributers listed below:
1. Swank Motion Pictures Inc.: www.swank.com
2. Criterion: www.criterionpic.com

Any organization or department who fails to comply with this policy, and is found showing a movie or film without purchasing a performance license may have their event shut down immediately, and will have disciplinary actions in the form of a warning or strike from the Reservations Office.

The only films exempt from this policy are those acquired through the University of Pittsburgh’s Library System Kanopy, Netflix Educational one time screening of documentaries (only those titles specifically designated with “Grant of Permission for Educational Screenings”), or by selecting a movie in the public domain. Within Kanopy, only those titles labeled as having PPR come with screening rights.

What do I need to do if I would like to host a pie-throwing contest or fundraiser?

Please review this event policy in our Policies and Procedures handbook.

Can I host a bake sale?

A bake sale is defined as the sale of items that will not spoil in the absence of refrigeration. Items included in the bake sale must come from the pre-approved list of breads, brownies, cakes, cookies, covered/dipped apples, donuts, fudge, muffins, or pretzels.
Below are the guidelines for hosting a bake sale in the student unions:
- A bake sale request form must be completed at least 7 days before the program
- A cashbox request form must be filled out and approved at least 3 days prior to the program
- If applicable, items must disclose if they contain nut products or other allergens
- All items must be individually wrapped in a substance that allows the buyer to see the item prior to purchase

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