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Risky Business: Changes in Student Risk Management for Campus Events

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

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Written by Katie Thomas, Sean Field

When Jeremiah (not a real person) joined the Leap Frog Club (not a real club) on campus, he was truly elated. After years of leap frogging over bushes and small animals, he would finally have the chance to share his passion with like-minded individuals. As O-week wound down, Jeremiah proposed the club host a giant leap-frogging marathon. They would invite all of the students at the university, serve beer and chips, and leap frog late into the night.

What the imaginary Jeremiah may not have known, is that an event like the leap frog marathon would require him to submit several forms to the Student Risk Management (SRM) committee for their approval.

Katie Thomas, the SRM coordinator at the University of Guelph, explained that the process exists to ensure that the university is aware of potentially risky events that are advertised to students for insurance purposes.

ìItís just about common sense,î she said. ìMaking sure people are letting us know [what they are planning] so we can be supportive to their endeavors.î

The rules apply for all campus clubs, whether they are part of Interhall Council, the CSA, or one of the Colleges. However, as some clubs discovered in the early weeks of this semester, information on when and how to submit SRM forms is not widely known.

Sean Field, an organizing member of Oxfam at the University of Guelph, said poor circulation of information about the SRM system meant some groups have unknowingly broken the rules already this semester.

ìAt least they should make other people aware of this,î Field said. ìFor a first time club, or one whose executive has changed, this can be completely new.î

While the SRM policy and procedures manual is available online, it has not been updated, and not all clubs were able to send members to one of the SRM trainings that are occurring this week.

Thomas acknowledged that some of the changes have not been widely publicized so far, but said she will offer supplementary training in October for clubs that missed early sessions.

ìWe are currently overhauling the manual,î Thomas said. ìThis year Iím trying to clarify things to make it easier for clubs to run events and make sure they are being safe.î

Prior to this year, most clubs only handed in forms for events considered ëriskyí because they involved off campus activities, food or beverages, or took place in a room near capacity. Those forms must now be filled out online, two weeks prior to an event, while non-risky event forms can be submitted in paper one week beforehand. The forms are reviewed by the SRM committee, which meets once a week to assess events and be sure that the event planners and the school will be covered by insurance.

The committee can also issue infractions to groups, and move them between levels.

ìInfractions are issued on a case by case basis,î Thomas said. ìThere are four levels: good standing, poor, probation, and suspended, but it takes a verbal warning, a written warning, and one more infraction before clubs are moved between levels.î

Clubs are allowed to appeal decisions by the SRM committee to move them from one level to another. If a club reaches the probation level, it is no longer allowed to hold risky events. At the suspension level, a club is not permitted to host any more events.

More information on the SRM committee and forms are available here, or by emailing .

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