The Catholic University of America


A. Waivers and Releases

1. General Considerations

Q. If the field trip is a mandatory component of the class must faculty obtain a waiver from students?

A. If the field trip is mandatory, then waivers and releases may not be effective. It would not truly be voluntary, and therefore likely not enforceable.

However, a waiver and release is effective for voluntary activities that students participate in while on a mandatory trip. For example, if a student is on a trip to New York City to perform in a required concert for music class, he or she may be asked to sign a release for anything that he or she does while not performing (i.e., sightseeing).

Q. If the field trip is optional must faculty obtain a waiver from students?

A. If the field trip is an optional component of the class, then waivers and releases will protect the university from liability.

Q. If a student is a minor, must faculty obtain a permission slip from the student's parent?

A. Yes, for minor students (typically those under the age of 18) permission slips from their parents or guardians are required.

Q. What must a waiver or release contain?

A. Waivers and releases should contain a description of the activity. For high risk and hazardous activities, a specialized release with a through description of the specific risks should be used.

Q. Where can I find an approved waiver/release?

A. Here is a general waiver and release. The waivers and release page also has releases tailored for specific activities. If you need assistance on choosing or customizing a waiver, please call the Office of General Counsel at 5142.

2. High Risk Trips

A release must be obtained for high risk activities, even if they are mandatory. A release will put students on notice of the risks and dangers that the activity will entail. Examples of high risk activities include:

  • Trip that involves certain sports or physical activity (e.g., kayaking, rock climbing, ski trips
  • Trip to view tree canopy while on a platform suspended from a crane

3. Low Risk Trips

Releases should be obtained unless the activity is a very low risk. An example of a low risk activity would be a walking tour of a small town.

B. Transportation

Q. What forms of travel are appropriate for long-distance field trips?

A. The safest forms of travel for long-distance travel include commercial carriers (trains, buses and airlines), and university-provided buses or vans driven by employees holding commercial drivers licenses.

Q. Is it appropriate for faculty to charter a bus for a long-distance field trip?

A. Yes, faculty are encouraged to charter a bus for long-distance field trips, paid for from the department or school budget. When chartering a bus, the university should take into consideration:

o Company meets state and federal requirements

o Driver qualifications

o On-going training

o Insurance

o Age of vehicles

o Emergency procedures

Q. What rules must the faculty follow if using a university-owned vehicle?

A. If using a university-owned van, faculty must comply relevant local policies on van use, such as the UCSPE Van Use and Policy Guidelines.

Q. Will the University pay for a ticket or citation incurred due to a parking or moving violation?

A. No, if a ticket is issued for any violation, the driver is responsible for payment.

Q. Is it appropriate for drivers to caravan?

A. No, caravanning is not a good idea. It could be unsafe as the driver can be distracted by trying to follow the other drivers. One alternative is to meet at pre-arranged stops. This way each driver will have his own directions and maps and can travel at his own pace. Each driver should also have a cell phone in his or her vehicle.

C. Communication Plans

Q. What kind of information should the faculty member arranging the trip obtain from the students?

A. The faculty member should gather basic information from the students prior to the trip such as family contact information and cell phone numbers.

Q. What kind of information should the faculty member arranging the trip provide to the students?

A. The faculty member should disseminate basic information to the students prior to the trip such as the name of the contact person at the destination, the contact person at CUA in case of emergency, estimated departure and return times, and information on flights, rental vehicles and other logistical details.

D. Emergency Plans

Q. How should faculty members prepare for unexpected crises?

A. Faculty members should have enough money (cash, credit or traveler's checks) on hand for such things as an extra night's lodging or vehicle repairs.

Q. How should faculty members prepare in the event of a medical emergency?

A. Faculty members should pre-determine how medical emergencies will be taken care of and share this information with students prior to the trip. Inform students in writing and in advance of the trip if the medical care where a group will be difficult to reach or is far away.

Q. Is it okay to leave an ill or injured student at the hospital to receive treatment while the group moves on to the next destination.

A. No, never leave a student alone to get medical treatment while the group moves on. Faculty members should adequately supervise the student's medical care.

Q. If a student becomes ill or injured, whom should the faculty member contact after obtaining medical treatment?

A. Communicate immediately and regularly with the university when a student becomes ill or injured. Faculty should contact the Dean of Students at 202-319-5619. If the emergency occurs after business hours, or the Dean of Students is unavailable, contact the Department of Public Safety at 202-319-5111.

Q. Should students be asked to sign consent forms regarding medical care?

A. Yes. This issue is addressed in the standard release.

Q. Does the University provide accident or medical insurance to students participating in the field trip?

A. No, the University does not provide medical insurance for any student's participation in field trips. All students shall be responsible for any medical costs they incur during and/or as a result of the field trip. All students are required to provide the university with proof of medical insurance at the time they register.

Q. How should faculty members prepare for vehicle breakdowns?

A. In the case of vehicle breakdowns, have an emergency kit in the vehicle, including such things as vehicle registration and insurance card, flashlight, jack and spare tire, jumper cables and first aid kit.

Q. What should the faculty member do if he or she is in an auto accident while driving a University-owned vehicle?

A. If there is an accident with a University-owned van, faculty should follow these guidelines set forth the by the Office of University Center, Student Programs and Events (UCSPE):

1. Pull out of traffic to a safe location on the side of the road and stop the van.

2. Call the police.

3. Collect information from all individuals involved, including names, license plate numbers, and insurance information. Provide this information to the UCSPE upon the return to campus.

4. Contact the UCSPE at 202-319-5291 or the Department of Public Safety at 202-319-5111.

5. If the van is safe to drive, return to CUA and inform the UCSPE of the problem. If the van is not safe to drive, UCSPE or DPS will assist in coordinating the collection of the riders and the van will be towed.

Q. Are students required to wear seatbelts?

A. Yes, advise students to wear seatbelts.

E. Campus Behavioral Rules

Q. Does the Code of Student Conduct apply to students when they are off campus?

A. Yes, the Code of Student Conduct applies to all students, whether they are on or off campus. Student behavior shall be consistent with the published Code of Student Conduct , laws and regulations, and Expectations of a CUA Student. The university reserves the right to take appropriate action to protect the health and well-being of an individual and/or the university community, including pursuing disciplinary action for any violation of university policy or district or federal law off university premises by a student that affects the university's interests and/or is inconsistent with university's expectations of students.

Q. Do campus sexual harassment policies apply off campus?

A. Yes, the University's sexual harassment policy applies off campus. Faculty should notify students in training programs or pre-trip orientation of the sexual harassment policies and procedures. The faculty member should familiarize himself or herself with the university's sexual harassment policy prior to the trip.

Q. Whom should be contacted if sexual harassment occurs?

A. Any CUA student, faculty or staff member ("affiliated individual") who believes he or she has been sexually harassed by another CUA affiliated individual, should report the incident to the director of equal opportunity. A student may report the incident to the Dean of Students or designee ("Dean"), who will forward the complaint to the DEO. Any Supervisor, Department Chair, Dean or Administrator who receives or becomes aware of a complaint of sexual harassment should report the complaint to the Director of Equal Opportunity or the Office of the General Counsel as soon as possible and normally within three workdays. See the Sexual Harassment Complaint Procedures.

This Q and A was created with the assistance of Nancy Conneely, student legal intern in the Office of General Counsel.

links updated 6/10/08 rab