Legal Liability of Student Organizations
The liability that you (as an organization and as an individual) assume varies from situation to situation. In every day occurrences, the liability is most likely extremely low (i.e., meetings, office hours, etc.). However, in special circumstances, liability rises. There are some key factors that determine the extent of liability protection for your group.
Does the program, event, activity fall within the mission of the University?
The University of Wisconsin-Whitewater is committed to the development of the individual, the growth of personal and professional integrity and respect for diversity and global perspectives. These are met by providing academic and co-curricular programs that emphasize the pursuit of knowledge and understanding and a commitment to service within a safe and secure environment.
The mission of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater is:
- To provide a range of undergraduate programs and degrees, including interdisciplinary programs, in letters, sciences, and the arts as well as programs and degrees leading to professional specialization.
- To offer graduate education built clearly upon its undergraduate emphases and strengths with particular emphasis in the fields of business, education, communication, and human services.
- To engage in scholarly activity, including research, scholarship and creative endeavor, that supports its programs at the associate and baccalaureate degree level, its graduate programs, and its select mission.
- To create and maintain a positive and inviting environment for multicultural students, students with disabilities, and nontraditional students, and provide support services and programs for them.
- To serve as a regional cultural and economic resource center through its service initiatives.
- To provide continuing education and outreach programs as integrated institutional activities.
- To provide a variety of co-curricular activities to enhance out-of-class learning opportunities.
- To encourage and maintain a high level of personal and professional integrity in all University life and activities.
Benefit and Control
- Is the organization officially recognized by the University? (A completed application should be on file with Career & Leadership Development and needs to be completed each year.)
- Is the organization eligible for segregated university fees (SUFAC)? This does not mean that your group has to have received SUF funds, merely that your group falls under the eligibility requirements.
- Does the program, event, or activity fall within the mission of the student organization? The mission statement should be one of the first statements in the organization's constitution.
- Does the group have a University of Wisconsin-Whitewater faculty or staff member serving as advisor?
- Does the program, event, or activity conform to University, municipal, state and federal laws? Violation of any laws makes yourself, the group, the University, and everyone else involved liable should anything occur. This includes alcohol, drugs and hazing. These should not be a part of any activity!
If you can answer yes to the above items, than your group activity most likely involves a low level of risk and liability. Most likely, special insurance is not required. Call the Office of Risk Management to ensure that this is the case.