Palmer Commons

Thinking of going virtual with your event?

With restrictions on in-person events and budgetary constraints, many people are turning to virtual events. Our staff at Palmer Commons can help guide you through the process. 


Palmer Commons Re-Opening FAQ

Palmer Commons is looking forward to welcoming you back and is taking action to provide the safest environment possible for students and community upon our reopening. Even with public health informed practices, meaningful opportunities for cultivating community and belonging, and student involvement and development with a focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion remain essential to our mission. In order to ensure Palmer Commons is open for your use, each of us has a responsibility for protecting the health of the community.

Users of Palmer Commons need to commit to the following fundamental public health practices. These actions are some of the most powerful things we can do, and they depend on each one of us doing our part.

  • Wearing face coverings at all times in the public areas, lounges, food courts, corridors, elevators, and office suites.
  • Practice physical distancing.
  • Maintaining good hand hygiene.
  • Limit gathering size.

What will be open?

Palmer Commons is open to the university community only. We are MCard access only for this term. Departments housed in Palmer will be working remotely and Fields Cafe is closed for the fall term. Check back regularly for updates.

Will masks/face coverings be required?

As we implement significant steps to improve health and safety, we also need your help to protect all members of our community. Face coverings, such as disposable masks or cloth face coverings, must be worn by all individuals at all times in public areas. This includes common space lounges, study lounges, food operations, hallways, stairwells, office suites and elevators. CDC Guidance on Face Coverings

What sanitization protocols will be in place?

Our Building Services team will be using enhanced cleaning protocols, especially high-touch areas like door handles, flat surfaces, elevators, and handrails. Deep cleaning of spaces will occur overnight. Meeting rooms will be cleaned between each use. Bathrooms will be cleaned and sanitized regularly with techniques proven effective against viral transmission. Visitors to Palmer Commons also have a role to play in limiting virus transmission through frequent hand washing, using hand sanitizer, wearing a face covering, and maintaining at least 6 feet from others. We will have signage throughout the building stating health and safety protocol, along with extra sanitizing stations.

Will the lounges and food areas reopen?

We expect to open these spaces with significant public health informed practices. Furniture will be reduced and the remaining furniture repositioned to allow for social distancing and decreased capacity. Capacity of spaces will be posted. We encourage you to use mobile-ordering and pick-up for food vendors when they re-open. As we do everything we can to put in place protections for health and safety, we also need your help to protect all members of our community so please refrain from moving furniture.

Classroom Use

Will classes be held in Palmer Commons?

  • The Provost's Office has provided guidance to schools and colleges on how to plan for social distancing in classrooms for preliminary Fall 2020 planning scenarios.
  • Several factors are being considered including moving furniture to accommodate social distancing, ensuring technology can be used for lecture capture and live streaming and health and safety measures such as PPE and additional cleaning.
    • The Registrar's Office will be using this data in the coming weeks for very high level class schedule modeling purposes.
  • Check back often for updates


Will there be capacity limits?

Yes, capacity limits will follow State of Michigan Executive Orders and CDC guidance for group size. Seating in each room will be configured with six feet of distance between seats and the anticipated placement of people in each room. Aisleways will be wider, and there will be additional spacing for tables with people stationed at them such as buffet tables and registration tables. These new configurations will significantly decrease the room capacities from the stated fire code capacity. No matter the size of the meeting room, no meetings or events will exceed the gathering size limitations as dictated by U-M and the Governor.

Should in-person team meetings be discouraged even if social distancing?

Yes, in person meetings are discouraged. We recognize not all University and student activities can be done virtually and we all miss seeing each other in-person. If having an in-person meeting is critical, consider everything you can do to reduce risk and offer a hybrid option of joining virtually. Our Event Services team is ready to assist you with planning in person and virtual events using Zoom, BlueJeans and Google Meet..

Can my event/meeting still be catered? Yes!

  • MCatering will continue to offer a robust variety of menu options and meet dietary preferences. The service style may be different than you are used to, for instance, servers will be wearing masks and items that were previously self-serve (beverages, buffets) will now be served by MCatering staff. Group size restrictions, physical distancing and other public health considerations may impact the level of available catering.
  • Katherine’s Catering: They are in full swing, offering lots of pre-packaged meal options for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and appetizers. They have invested in the necessary equipment to provide safe events, including plexiglass shields, sneeze guards and individual salt and pepper shakers to name a few. They also conducted staff training to ensure their team is well informed and understand the new event protocol. There is a detailed section on their website outlining the current COVID plan. (under the about tab)
  • Zingerman’s Catering: Zingerman’s Catering and Events’ sales staff, kitchen crew, event planners, drivers and service staff, thank you for your continued loyalty as we navigate the current health situation in our community. As always, we appreciate the opportunity to be part of your special occasions and your everyday meals. Our motto says that we deliver “great taste that you can trust” and that continues to be our number one priority. When you are offering Zingerman’s full flavored food to your friends, family and coworkers, we know that you are trusting us to be vigilant in our food safety practices. We will continue to deliver great food to your door, ready for you to enjoy with confidence.For more information, see the following Google document.
  • Pizza House: The delivery option will continue to be contact-free with pre-payment online. For information regarding catererd events contact Sue Baker, Asst.General Manager/Catering,

Study Spaces at UM

Palmer Commons has partnered with ITS and other campus faciltiies to provide reservable study seats. Study Spaces at U-M is a tool designed to help you find and reserve designated study spaces, computer stations, a space for you to take a remote class, or just a dedicated quiet touchdown spot between classes. Our seats are located in the Central Campus Study Spaces section.  

New Room Rental and Audio Visual Rates

We’ve transitioned to a flat hourly rate for rooms that have built-in audio-visual equipment. These rooms include the Great Lakes Room, Forum Hall, Plaza Room and our Executive Boardroom. We are here to make your events easier for you. No more carrying your own equipment across campus. One of our skilled staff members will have the AV ready to go when you walk in your room! 


Hours of Operation

August 31 - November 20:

Monday-Friday: 7:30am - 10pm

Weekends: 11am-7pm






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