Central campus tent is available for free use

As Iowa State takes steps to return campus to an in-person experience this fall, the latest sign will become visible Friday.

A 40-by-60 tent will be erected on central campus just north of the campanile for faculty, staff and students to use. The tent can be reserved free of charge online through the Memorial Union for internal events, ranging from retirement celebrations to departmental lunches.

"People were talking about having get-togethers at the end of the semester with quite a few retirements happening, connecting with students before they go or having poster competitions," said Frank Peters, chair of the university response team. "The tent provides an option for departments or student organizations to meet in an outdoor environment."

Peters said some people may not be comfortable gathering indoors, but hopes this provides a way to hold events that more individuals feel safe attending. All Cyclones Care safety measures apply.

It also reintroduces people who may have been working remotely for the past year back to campus and sets the tone for the fall semester, Peters said.

The tent is available through May 13 and is not for nonuniversity rental. Those wanting to use the tent must reserve it through the MU.

Groups may bring their own tables and chairs and are asked to clean up after themselves. For events that need assistance from other departments or involve third parties, the university event authorization system helps coordinate planning.

Event authorization

Iowa State began asking departments, students and third parties to register some events online through the university event authorization system a year ago. Guidelines help determine if an event needs to be entered into the system. It's a process student organizations have used for years -- transitioning from paper to electronic forms -- and allows ISU to have a better idea of what events are happening and who is on campus on a daily basis, said senior risk and systems analyst Kurt Beyer, office of risk management.

"We had planned to release it slowly, but when COVID happened, there was a desire to know more about what was happening across campus," Beyer said.

Internal events and programs, such as trainings and staff meetings, do not need to use the authorization system. Those using the tent to host current faculty, staff or students must reserve it through the Memorial Union, but do not need to complete the authorization form.

"If a department wants to get together and have lunch, they do not have to use the authorization system," Beyer said.

If the event is open to more than current ISU faculty, staff or students, or requires services like electricity, garbage or restrooms, the form must be completed.

"It's not a system to keep events from happening, but we want to use it to be able to coordinate all of the events," Beyer said.

When they fill out the form, individuals are asked what activities will take place, and if services from other departments are needed, the system alerts them to get requests filed.

The system can assist with a wide range of needs when events involve food, animals, gambling/raffles, participants younger than 18 years or external vendors.

Questions about safely holding events on campus can be sent to gatherings@iastate.edu.