Policy Number: 803

Policy Suffix:

I. General Policy

The University is committed to providing a conducive environment for education, research, and campus life. Retail and vending operations on campus should align with the University's mission, enhance the campus experience, and comply with all relevant laws and regulations and University policies. Housing and Dining (H&D) is the point of contact for all retail and vending considerations. Athletics is responsible for all sales and concessions vendors at athletic events.

II. Roles and Responsibilities

Housing and Dining Department (H&D)- the point of contact for all retail and vending considerations.

Athletics Department- Athletics is responsible for all sales and concessions vendors at athletic events.

III. Definitions

Vendor - A vendor is a business entity or individual who is not a Rice employee that is eligible to provide goods or services in accordance with acceptable business practices. A vendor is one that has qualified for inclusion in the Rice University Vendor master database by submitting all necessary information to accounts payable for payment and have passed any required screening requirements (e.g., not on the federal debarred business list).

Mobile food trucks - A vehicle equipped with a kitchen and food preparation facilities, used to sell, and serve food and beverages.

Vending machines - An automated device typically found in public spaces that dispenses various products, such as snacks, beverages, food, medicine, personal hygiene and health products, or even electronics, in exchange for money or campus dollars.

Fair-Trade certified products - Products that are Fair-Trade Certified are those products that they were produced in accordance with Fair-Trade's rigorous environmental, economic and social standards. This certification is independently verified through regular audits by an accredited third-party auditor. Fair trade is a trading partnership, based on dialogue, transparency, and respect, that seeks greater equity in international trade. Fair trade practices typically include paying fair prices for products, ensuring safe working conditions, supporting environmentally sustainable production methods, promoting gender equality, and fostering long-term relationships between producers and buyers. See Fair-Trade America for more information.

IV. Elaboration of Policy

A. Approval and Agreements

  1. Vendors wishing to operate retail stores, mobile food trucks, or vending machines on campus must obtain approval from H&D. These arrangements shall be in the form of a written agreement and specify terms, conditions, and any applicable fees and commissions.
  2. Concessions vendors for the athletic department and athletic events must be collaborated upon by H&D and the Athletics Business office. Concession arrangements must be in the form of a written agreement.
  3. Agreements must be reviewed in accordance with University Policy 810.

B. Location and Placement

The University and/or H&D will designate suitable locations for retail stores, mobile food trucks, and vending machines on campus, considering factors such as foot traffic, accessibility, safety, and aesthetics.

C. Product Selection

Products sold on campus must be consistent with the University's values and objectives. The sale of alcohol must be approved in advance by H&D or Athletics, as applicable.

D. Pricing and Discounts

Retail pricing should be competitive and consistent with the surrounding market, (i.e. Rice Village). Discounts must be offered fairly to students, faculty, staff, and visitors.

E. Sustainability and Health Initiatives

The University expects vendors to adopt sustainable practices and to partner with the university in achieving carbon neutrality, waste reduction, utility efficiency, and other sustainability goals. Food service vendors shall 1) make healthy food and beverage options available if consistent with their traditional offerings, 2) prioritize the purchase of sustainable or ethically produced and locally sourced food and beverage items, when possible, 3) participate in the university’s composting program, and 4) prohibit the use of polystyrene takeaway containers. All vendors are encouraged to consider including Fair-Trade certified products where feasible.

F. Food Safety and Health Standards

If food and beverages are sold on campus, vendors must adhere to all applicable food safety and health standards and inspections.

G. Compliance with Laws and Regulations

Vendors are required to comply with all local, state, and federal laws and regulations, including taxation, permits, and any relevant health codes, and Rice University policies.

H. Advertising and Promotion

Marketing materials and signage must adhere to university branding guidelines and maintain a professional appearance.

I. Student Involvement

The University may promote student involvement in retail and vending operations, which may include student-run stores or advisory committees. Hiring of students is encouraged where available.

J. Financial Accountability

All revenue generated from retail and vending operations must be accurately accounted for. Periodic audits may be performed by the University.

K. Conflict Resolution

Disputes between the University and vendors, or between vendors, shall be addressed through established conflict resolution procedures in accordance with the applicable agreement between the parties.

L. Accessibility

Retail and vending locations must be accessible to individuals with disabilities, in compliance with ADA regulations and University standards.

This University Retail and Vending Sales Policy serves as a framework for the operation of retail stores, mobile food trucks, athletic concessions, and vending machines on campus. All vendors and retailers are expected to adhere to this policy and maintain a positive and productive relationship with the University community.

VI. Responsible Official and Key Offices

Responsible Official: Executive Vice President for Operations, Finance, & Support

Key Offices: Housing and Dining, Athletics


Reginald DesRoches, President

Policy History


May 7, 2024

Clerical Changes

March 4, 2024

August 15, 2023

January 18, 2023

February 5, 2018

November 4, 1970