Capital Improvements

Capital Improvements and Major Equipment Requests from Student Organizations

Brown encourages and supports student initiative as a critical component of Brown’s educational mission and campus community and Brown endeavors to provide an infrastructure to support and encourage such initiatives, including buildings and, in some case, major equipment.  At the same time, with student initiative comes the responsibility for students to execute their activities safely and for student government to prioritize, endorse, and provide funding for student initiatives through the Student Activities Fee.

There are times when student needs for and use of facilities may raise questions about available building infrastructure or when safety issues may go beyond a student group’s capacity to manage within their annual budget.  The Student Activities Office, Undergraduate Council of Students, and the Undergraduate Finance Board have developed guidelines for helping student organizations determine avenues and responsibility for funding of such equipment or facilities.

When determining if these guidelines might apply to a specific request, please consider the following:

  • If this purchase is replacing an existing piece of equipment, who purchased the previous equipment? What percentage of time was it used by which groups?
  • If the group were to move to a different facility, would this item move with them or remain in the space?
  • What was the space intended for by the university when allocated for its current usage?

While designed as a result of issues faced by undergraduate student organizations, this process is also open for graduate student groups, in which case the SAO would engage with the leadership of the Graduate Student Council.

Building Infrastructure/University Responsibility: The renovation or equipment is needed for the basic safety and/or general usability of the building. If the project does not occur the usage of the space will be severely limited or prevented entirely.  Examples might include damage caused by water coming into a building, issues with floors, ceilings, and windows, electrical infrastructure, etc.

Process:  The student organization raising the issue should submit the form below to the Director of Student Activities.  If the request is deemed to be related to building infrastructure, the Director of Student Activities will work with the Office of the Vice President for Campus Life and Student Services, Facilities Management, the Office of the Provost, and others to direct the request to the appropriate University office.  Note that not all funding requests can receive priority.  For minor improvements that are not a result of damage, the Director may be able to fund directly.

Note:  the University continually works to maintain its facilities.  It may be appropriate to submit a Service Request with Facilities to determine if it is something that can be addressed through ongoing maintenance.  Facilities Service Response (401-863-7800) should be notified immediately in the event of an issue that may be unsafe or compromise the security of a building.

Shared Responsibility: If the renovation or equipment is needed for the safety of the activities of one or more student organizations AND the completion of the project will have larger benefits for other groups and/or the larger campus community, it may be deemed to be a shared responsibility.  Generally, in this case, if the work is not completed, the ability for one or more groups to operate will be diminished or prohibited.  Examples might include replacement or upgrade of existing, major equipment that does not meet current safety standards, such as theatre risers.

Process:  The student organization(s) raising the issue will submit the form below to the Director of the Student Activities Office. The SAO Director will work with the student organization to coordinate the response.  In this instance, the cost would normally be split three ways between the University (SAO funds or, if beyond this, advanced to the Vice President for Campus Life and Student Services for review for support or referral to the Office of the Provost), student government, and the organization(s) making the request.  This cost sharing recognizes that the student groups are choosing to engage in the activity and have the responsibility to execute them safely, that the student government is responsible for recognizing and approving organizations to operate, and the University has a vested interest in supporting student initiative, practices that meet the highest standards of safety, and that the improvements will benefit the University community and/or other groups or departments.  Note that not all funding requests can be prioritized and the decision might still be reached to curtail or suspend activities.

Student Organization Responsibility: The renovation or equipment is needed for the enhancement of the activities of one or more specific student groups occurring in the space.  There is not a significant safety issue and the project will primarily improve the functions of the effected groups (e.g. PW light board).  There is no vested University interest in making the improvement beyond enabling the ability of students to carry out initiatives of their own choosing.

Process:  The student group is responsible for finding the funds, either through their own raised funds or through a spring budget or supplemental request to the student government.  Normal financial processes apply.  Student organizations are encouraged to raise the issue to the attention of their Undergraduate Finance Board representative.


When requests are submitted, they will be reviewed on an ad hoc basis by the Student Activities Chair of the Undergraduate Council of Students, Vice-Chair of the Undergraduate Finance Board, and Director of the Stephen Robert ’62 Campus Center and Student Activities.  In the event of a graduate student organization, the Director will work with the Graduate Student Council.

Appeals on the committee’s determination as to the category that applies will be directed to the Vice President for Campus Life and Student Services and the President of the Undergraduate Council of Students or Graduate Student Council.