Inclusive Events Planning Guide

2023 Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Conference

Background and Definitions

The University of Massachusetts is a diverse institution that attracts students, faculty, and staff from a wide variety of backgrounds and social identities. This includes identities that are based on race, ethnicity, language, country of origin, religion, political affiliation, gender, sexual orientation, disability, class, age, and more. Therefore, it is important that event planners consider how they can make their events accessible and engaging to a wide audience. To successfully plan events that are inclusive for our community, it is necessary to think beyond simple accommodations or acknowledgements, and to instead create events that are designed to be universally accessible to everyone in our community. 

We believe that it is important to plan inclusive events from the very beginning and throughout the planning process to ensure that events are inclusive and accessible to as much of our campus community as possible. This resource can be used to guide your event planning team in centering accessibility and inclusion throughout each step of your planning process, from beginning to end.

How to use this guide

Use this guide as a tool and reference to help you think about and plan events at UMass Amherst. This is intended to help you plan events that are inclusive and accessible to the diverse people who make up the UMass community. It is intended to be flexible and adaptable to your specific events and circumstances, and to help you to meet the needs of the people you serve.

What this guide does not do

  • This guide should not be used as a simple to-do list. Each step in the event planning process, from beginning to end, requires consideration and discussion with your event planning team. 
  • This guide should not be used as a checklist after an event has already been planned. Using this as a last-minute checklist will not help an event to be more inclusive. 
  • It is important to note that this guide is not exhaustive and may not be applicable to all situations. It is up to you and your event planning committee to adapt this guide for your specific event.
  • This guide is for use when planning events and should not be used to plan course curriculum or other types of materials. 


For the purpose of this guide, an event is defined as any extracurricular university experience (activity, workshop, training, panel, speaker, field trip, discussion group, etc.) for any university audience (students, staff, faculty, alumni, community) large or small. Events can be in-person, virtual through a platform such as Zoom, or have both in-person and virtual components.

An inclusive event is an event where all participants feel welcome and supported. An event must be accessible to be inclusive.

An accessible event is an event that can be comfortably attended by everyone who would want to attend the event. Accessible event planners are proactive and responsive to the needs of attendees while maintaining transparency about available accommodations in the event space.


Each college, unit, and department will have a different system for accountability when it comes to event planning, and you should reach out to your department chair, Dean’s office, or unit leadership to find out more about who is ultimately accountable for the quality of events in your area. Ultimately, we are all accountable for creating an environment at UMass that is both inclusive and accessible. 

If you have concerns about campus events that are not inclusive, please reach out to the Office of Equity and Inclusion (OEI). If you need to report a campus climate incident, please complete this form and OEI will contact you as soon as possible.

Jump to a section

Please use the links below to jump to the different sections of the Inclusive Events Guide.

Before the Event

During the Event

After the Event and Additional Resources

The Inclusive Event Planning Guide has been created with universal access in mind and has been guided by existing event planning procedures published by universities including Cornell, the University of Michigan, and Columbia. The Office of Equity and Inclusion (OEI) collaborated with UMass stakeholders over multiple years to develop the final version of this document. This planning guide is a living document that will be continually updated with relevant information and resources—your feedback is always welcome. It is intended to be used as a step-by-step process for thinking about and planning inclusive events for students, faculty, staff, and alumni at UMass Amherst. We hope you find this guide beneficial and adaptable to a wide variety of situations.