As an advisor, assisting the organizations with managing and mitigating the risks of campus programs is important. We believe that taking time to learn the policies that guide risk management and liability for student organizations is key.
Risk Management 101
- Includes the process of identifying and evaluating the risks associated with activities and operations of an organization; developing a plan to control, reduce, or eliminate those risks.
- Is an assessment about a future event or experience that threatens your organization's ability to accomplish its purpose, host an event, maintain status as a student organization, and maintain a healthy and safe environment for you and others.
- Includes reasonable attempt to identify unexpected factors which may result in:
- Harm to those involved
- Property damage
- Harm to the RSO’s reputation
- Includes proactively preparing to respond to incidents.
Risk can be categorized into 5 areas:
- Physical – risk related to physical activities, travel, food illnesses, etc.
- Reputation – risk related to damaging the character or image of individuals, the organization, or institution.
- Emotional – risk related to the discomfort or damaging to an individual's personal feelings and well-being.
- Financial – risks that negatively affect the fiscal strength of the organization or related parties.
- Facilities – risks that inhibit the activity from taking place including weather, space, property damage, equipment, etc.
Risk management should be an integral part of the event planning process. When planning events or programs, it is important to think about anything that could unexpectedly occur. Anticipate the worst case scenario and plan for those possibilities. Take time to consider the risks and develop a risk management plan. Follow established policy guidelines.
Each advisor has the responsibility to be fully acquainted with and ensure student organizations comply with the Code of Conduct, Student Fee Regulations, and the Campus Use of University Facilities policy. These documents provide great information for your students and you as you go through the event management and operation process.
Insurance and Liability
Advisors, as “public employees”, enjoy protections under the Colorado Governmental Immunity Act (CGIA) when acting in the course and scope of their duties for CU. The protections under the CGIA are supported with coverage under the University’s liability insurance program.
Recognized Student Organizations
(RSO) Recognized Student Organization activities are not covered under the University’s liability insurance, however, they are able to have advisors. The main difference is that RSOs do not act as part of the institution. However, there are measures the students and their advisor can take to reduce the potential for loss and limit liability. In addition, RSOs should be aware that if their event/activity is determined to be a higher risk category, e.g., concerts, physical/athletic type activities, they may need to purchase a one-time special event insurance coverage. This would be determined during the campus event management process. University Risk Management (URM) can assist with obtaining this type of coverage.
Tips to mitigate risk
- Have students schedule an appointment with their liaison in the Center for Student Involvement to talk through logistics.
- Ask probing questions to student leaders planning events. Some examples include:
- How they will manage lines, numbers, etc.
- Run through “What if” scenarios about how they respond to someone getting injured at the event.
- Student organizations should have a process for documenting/recording their activities and events to demonstrate:
- Reasonable efforts were taken to mitigate risk.
- Event planning consistency and accountability.
- Transition for the next academic year planning process.
- Availability of student organization records should an incident occur and the organization is required to provide documentation.
- Decisions made to support event/activity safety.
- Adherence to campus policies and procedures.
- University Risk Management website provides best practices and guidelines for:
- Event and Activity Planning
- Waivers for activities with risk of injury
- Requesting certificates (proof) of insurance from 3rd party vendors/companies
- Risk assessments and emergency planning checklists
URM is available for questions regarding risk, insurance and liability questions.
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