Faculty/Staff Taking Students on Institute Sponsored Trips
Fieldtrips and other Off-Campus Travel, Conferences
(As Approved by Your Dean or Division Head)
Students benefit from faculty/staff organized academic related field trips that enhance the learning experience of the course curriculum or the RIT academic experience. The following information provides guidelines to clarify liability issues and provides steps to follow for these planned activities.
Liability exposure for planned fieldtrips may be different from that of everyday class activity because the trip usually involves transportation issues and off-site premises liability. RIT faculty can address these issues by planning their trip appropriately.
Major aspects of risk management include:
Travel to Foreign Countries:
When planning an RIT-sponsored trip abroad, faculty, staff and students should keep the following in mind:
- The university follows the US Dept of State’s guidelines when approving funding for foreign travel. Before you begin making arrangements for your trip, please consult the State Dept’s website at www.travel.state.gov. The university prohibits travel to those countries with travel warnings or travel alerts. Accordingly, any travel must be viewed as the personal choice and expense of the group.
- Review the country specific information on the State Dept’s website to make yourself familiar with the area you plan to visit.
- Students who are planning to study abroad need to contact the Study Abroad Department http://studyabroad.rit.edu/.
- Worldwide travel assistance coverage is available for RIT students, staff and faculty traveling on RIT sponsored trips overseas. The cost is $6 per person and it is strongly recommended that the department opt for providing this benefit. Details of the types of services offered under this program can be viewed at http://www.rit.edu/fa/grms/travel_assistance_students.html. The enrollment form can be obtained via a link on that web page along with instructions on how to gain coverage. Please allow at least seven days lead time for enrollment so that the Risk Management Office can get the ID cards back to you before the start of the trip.
Pre Trip Orientation
- Assuming this is a voluntary trip, provide a pre-trip orientation to include a very detailed session on the travel, hotel and itinerary aspects of the organized activities. Detail should be provided in written form so that students/and or parents will have a full understanding of what is involved.
- If RIT is merely lending financial support to the student to attend the conference, clearly articulate this relationship to the student. Inform student(s) that RIT is not supervising the activities in any fashion; that they can expect other third parties to provide the programming, services, hotel, food and possibly modes of transportation during the planned trip.
- During this orientation, cover that there will be free time (assumed there will be), that it will be expected that the student's behavior while on the trip should be professional and will be reflective of RIT. RIT's rules with regard to student conduct will apply while on the trip.
- At all times, students are responsible for their own personal safety; recommend that during free time they go out in groups (versus going out alone).
- Students should also be expected to carry their medical insurance card with them and be familiar with how they need to use it in case of an emergency. Some HMO's require preauthorization, for example. If the trip involves foreign travel, special consideration needs to be given to learn how medical insurance will apply if medical attention is needed while overseas.
In most cases, travel plans should be left to the individual students for local field trips. If RIT coordinated ground travel is planned, you are advised to contact the Parking and Transportation Services Department to inquire about the use of an RIT van. Drivers of Institute vans must obtain a driver certification card from Parking and Transportation that includes a written and driving test as well as a DMV check on his/her license.
RIT discourages faculty from actively coordinating car pools using students as drivers and/or paying student drivers mileage allowances for use of their cars. If this option becomes absolutely necessary, please contact the RIT Risk Management Office at x5-6135 for further guidance.
Trips requiring the supervising faculty/staff member to acquire the use of rental cars should be handled in the following manner:
- The RIT faculty/staff should rent the vehicle, not the student.
- Rental should be billed against an RIT corporate credit card (JPMorgan or NTID Citicard). This assures that RIT's Car Rental Loss Program will respond should there be physical damage to the rental car during the term of the loan.
- Students should not be allowed to drive the vehicle unless they have a valid RIT driver certification card and are listed with the car rental agency as an additional driver.
- Rentals of vans larger than a 7-8 passenger mini-van is strictly prohibited.
- If the trip requires the use of a larger capacity vehicle or the rental of a truck, please contact the Risk Management Office at x5-6135 to discuss the details before making the rental reservations.
- Any motor vehicle accident occurring during the trip should be reported to your dean or department head and Parking and Transportation within one business day. If injuries occur, immediately notify your dean's office or Parking and Transportation during after-hours.
RIT faculty/staff using their own personal car for Institute business travel should refer to the following website for other risk management guidelines http://www.rit.edu/fa/grms/personal_vehicles.html.
Agreement to Participate Form (Release from Liability)
For trips outside of the Rochester regional area or that involve overnight stays, the faculty coordinator should prepare an Agreement to Participate Form which serves as an informed consent and liability release. The release form needs to be modified with appropriate information about your trip (highlighted areas need updating) before being given to the student participants for signature. Each student wishing to participate in your trip should return a signed copy. Please note that the release form references the student has been given detailed information prior to the trip so you should be expecting them to sign off on the release form only after they have been given this information. These forms should be used for students age 18 and over and should be retained by your office/college for a minimum of 3 years. Contact the Risk Management Office at x5-6135 for the appropriate release format to use.
Please provide your college dean's office with a complete trip itinerary for your travel to include: dates/locations of travel, names of all students/faculty/staff traveling, hotel(s) phone number(s), and if you will be carrying a cell phone, that cell phone number to reach you in case of an emergency. A copy of this information should be forwarded to Public Safety (Grace Watson Hall) as well.
During the trip, should you or any student have an incident involving bodily injury, please notify your college dean's office to report the details within one business day. In the case of a serious injury/illness, that notification should be immediate. During the weekend, you can always notify Public Safety directly at (585) 475-3333, so that further RIT notifications can be made. If necessary, they can contact the Risk Management Office for further guidance to provide you.
Conferences tend to offer a great opportunity to network and socialize at conference sponsored events. Many times, vendors host hospitality suites that include alcohol. Please caution the students that they are expected to uphold all laws regarding alcohol consumption as well as the expectation that they will conduct themselves in a responsible/professional manner while on the trip.
As the Institute takes very seriously issues related to alcohol consumption in our student population, it is recommended that no institute funds be spent toward the purchase of alcohol for students on these trips.
If you would like to discuss these risk management recommendations further, please give the Risk Management Office a call at (585) 475-6135.