Risk Management & Liability Issues
Agreeing to serve as an advisor should not be taken lightly. Advisors should stay well-informed of their student organization’s actions and decisions and stay visibly involved in their role.
While student organizations need to have autonomy in decision-making processes, it is also very important that advisors stay aware of the issues and limitations inherent in the law. Maintaining awareness of legal issues is an important part of being an advisor.
As an advisor, you may need to educate your group about legal issues such as:
- Student organizations must comply with state, federal, and local laws. There is no immunity because they are students or because they are part of the University.
- Student organizations must comply with all university policies including the Student Code of Conduct (PDF) and Student Organization Code of Conduct (PDF).
- Student organizations may seem challenged by some of the laws or policies that they must follow. As an advisor, you can assist them in adjusting their events so that they are in compliance with the necessary guidelines.
While some legal situations may be unavoidable, most can be anticipated and averted if the students and advisor think ahead and remember some basic risk management tips:
- Maintain industry standards. When using various types of equipment, stay within the standards as recommended by the manufacturer. Examples include power limits on extension cords and passenger limits in vehicles.
- Risky events - Some events have a level of risk included in them, such as tugs of war, eating competitions, ski trips, or carnival-type events requiring physical exertion. Engage in pointed conversations with leaders as they raise these types of activities as possible events. Make sure they understand the risks inherent in such events and what additional planning steps are necessary when planning risky endeavors.
General Liability and Property Damage Insurance, or Special Event Liability Insurance is required for all events determined to be outside of normal meeting room use. SJSU Event Services will provide information on insurance requirements. Proof of insurance is due to the appropriate office at least 30 days prior to the event date (per the Student Organization On-Campus Events (PDF) policy). For more information, visit the Event Services website.
Below are forms that can be used with your student organization:
- Student Conduct Agreement (PDF)
- Field Trip Policy (PDF)
- Special Events Release Agreement (PDF)
- Student Travel Informed Consent (PDF)
- University Activity Release Agreement (PDF)
For additional questions about risk management, please contact:
SJSU Risk & Compliance
UPD Building, 3rd Floor
**Adapted from University of Califoria, Berkeley, Center for Student Leadership