Student Organizations

Risk in Student Organizations

All of a student group’s activities – interaction with minors, special events, student travel and transportation – have some level of risk associated with them.  This could include personal injury, property damage, financial loss or lawsuits.  A good risk management program aims to minimize these adverse outcomes and maximize the opportunities. For this reason, student organizations, just like any operation, must learn to:

  • Recognize risk in your day-to-day activities.
  • Investigate the impact to the organization.
  • Start taking steps to manage the risk.
  • Know who to go to for help.

Enterprise Risk Management can advise on a host of issues, including the development and adoption of a risk management policy, liability waivers, insurance and other good risk management practices.

Strategies to Manage Risk

Provide regular information to members about important topics and resources affecting your organization, such as drug and alcohol prevention, mental and physical health, sexual harassment and discrimination, etc.  Knowledge is power!

Everyone is responsible for risk management.  It can be helpful, however, to make a leadership position to build that culture within your organization.

Limit authority within the organization to make financial commitments or authorize high-risk activity.  All contracts should be reviewed by the advisor and sent through the University's contract process.

Obtain waivers from each participant and review the details of the waiver in a group meeting so that each participant is aware of risks. Keep two signed copies from each participant (one with the advisor and the other with the group at all times during the activity). Sample Permission and Release Form for Student Trips, Outings, and/or Activities are available (see Student Activities and Leadership Development).

When traveling on University business, the student group should rent a vehicle through the University's pre-approved rental agencies or UC fleet (charter bus, motor coach, etc) (see Transportation Services).

Do not serve alcohol during events or hold an event an a licensed premises (no members of the organization should be serving alcohol).  If possible, provide transportation to and from events where alcohol is served.  Report special events to the proper campus resources (Special Events)

As a general rule, student organizations are not covered under the University's various lines of insurance coverage.  Here are a few exceptions:

  • Car rentals obtained through Transportation Services;
  • Student government leaders while acting in their official capacity; and 
  • Events co-sponsored by the University.


Insurance can be purchased through Campus ConnexionsURMIA. Please contact ERM for specific questions and consultation.

For additional questions, Ask a Risk Manager