Risk Management

Unpleasant as it is to think of someone getting injured during an event your organization sponsors, accidents can and do happen. Risk management is the process of legally covering your bases in case of an accident.

The following section is intended to provide an introduction to risk management policies and help student organizations consider how this may apply to events they plan. Many types of events carry a potential risk, including: art shows, concerts, dances, festivals, political rallies, recreational and sporting events, parades, and conventions.

For questions you or your adviser may have about liability and risk management, contact the Director of Student Activities or the Treasurer’s Office. 

Planning pointers

  1. Think the program through completely; play “devils’ advocate” and apply Murphy’s Law (“If something can go wrong, it will”).
  2. Identify possible problems and prepare a plan to respond.
  3. If an event could be considered “high risk” (i.e., bungee Jumping, rodeo, physical activities/relays, lake swim), discuss in advance with the Treasurer’s Office. The organization may be required to purchase special event insurance. Typical events like dances, performances, and movies are not considered “high risk.” Note that it is not the role of risk managers to determine the legitimacy of student organization activities, but rather to evaluate and manage — with cooperation of faculty, staff, and students  the liability exposures that student organization activities may create.
  4. If the advisor has any objection to the event, he or she should verbally express his or her opinion to the group. If the group does not heed the advice, the advisor should put it in writing to remove him/herself from liability.

Risk control suggestions

  • Transfer risk through third-party waivers, hold-harmless agreements, or vendor contracts (especially applicable to rental vehicles, velcro walls, human bowling, etc.). Waivers can be obtained through the Office of Student Activities (Buntrock 107).
  • Prevent/control through training and supervision.
  • Mitigate risk through training and supervision.

Examples of event liability

  • Bake Sale: Someone chips a tooth on a nut in a brownie. The campus would not be held liable, but whoever baked the brownie would.
  • Volleyball fund-raiser for charity: If an entry fee was charged, and someone breaks an ankle during the game, the organization may be liable. If each individual signed a waiver, liability would be lessened.
  • Charter a boat for a cruise: If someone falls into the water while on the cruise, the boat’s insurance should cover the accident.
  • Fight occurs after a dance: Two members of the sponsoring organization try to break it up. In the process, one of the ‘fighters’ gets a broken nose. If the organization members were trying to intervene on behalf of the campus, they are not liable. If the organization members were acting on personal feelings toward ‘fighters’, the members would be personally responsible.