Non-Spring Term Domestic W&L-Related Student Travel (including Field Trips): Guidance for Faculty and Staff September 2016
Off campus non-Spring Term trips provide wonderful opportunities for students, whether they be course field trips, workshops, conferences, cultural excursions, W&L ensemble performances, student organization recreational/athletic or outreach trips, or otherwise. While such travel does incur certain risks (varying with the particulars of each trip), these risks can be minimized and well managed by the exercise of reasonable care and compliance with applicable university policies and procedures. These Q&As are designed to provide guidance on a few important points that faculty and staff are asked to follow when planning and carrying out domestic non-Spring Term University-related student travel.
Q: May faculty, staff and/or students drive their own cars when a class or organization is going off campus for a University program or University-related trip?
A: Though use of personal vehicles is not prohibited in all cases, employees, authorized volunteers, and non-employee students are encouraged to use W&L fleet vehicles or rental vehicles for University business, rather than their personal vehicles. Student employees are required to use rental vehicles or (when available from specific departments) fleet vehicles. Driving fleet or rental vehicles is encouraged because, when employees or students drive their personal vehicles, their personal automobile insurance is solely responsible for any damages to the vehicle and their personal liability coverage is primary in all cases for injuries or damage to others.
See the University's vehicle use policy: https://www.wlu.edu/general-counsel/code-of-policies/travel-(domestic-and-international)/vehicle-use-policy.
Q: What fleet vehicles are available? How do we arrange for rental cars or vans? What about chartering a bus for a large group?
There are very few departments with fleet vehicles (and they know who they are), so most trips will need to use rental cars or vans, which can be done by contacting Fontanne Bostic, the Fixed Asset and Purchasing Manager in the Business Office, at x8917 or email@example.com. Note: no fifteen passenger vans may be rented for University-related travel.
For large groups, you may wish to charter a bus. The University has worked with a number of bus charter companies, and has standard contract language and minimum insurance requirements that need to be used for bus charters. The Office of General Counsel can help with this - - please contact them at least three weeks before your trip, if possible.
Q: Are there any requirements or restrictions on who may drive on an off campus trip?
A: All employee and student drivers must satisfy the requirements of Section I of the University's vehicle use policy to drive on University-related trips. Students must be 18 years or older to drive most rental vehicles, but must be age 21 or older to drive larger vans. Student drivers must annually complete vehicle safety training before driving on University-related trips. This can be done by contacting Associate Director of Public Safety, Steve Tomlinson, at x8937 or firstname.lastname@example.org. If a group desires to hire a driver, Fontanne Bostic, the Fixed Asset and Purchasing Manager in the Business Office, has a list of part-time University employees approved to drive trips for an hourly fees. You may contact her at x8917 or email@example.com.
Q: How should we arrange for overnight stays if the trip will be more than a day trip?
A: All bookings for lodging will need to have a written contract and be reviewed in advance by the Office of General Counsel - - please send the contract at least three weeks in advance to allow for timely review and any negotiation of terms. Contracts will need to be signed by either the Dean or Provost, depending on the amount involved. See the Delegation of Contracting Authority.
Q: Do we need students to sign any paperwork outlining their responsibilities while off campus and acknowledging/assuming the risks of the trip?
A: Yes, all students on non-Spring Term off campus domestic trips will need to sign the applicable Agreement of Responsible Travel before leaving on the trip, which also calls for emergency contact information, information on allergies or other health conditions that program personnel should be aware of, and health/accident insurance information. Faculty/staff leading such trips should keep those forms with them on the trip. If students have not completed a form prior to the day of the trip, faculty/staff should take blank forms and have any remaining students sign before departure. Faculty/staff should retain these forms (electronically is fine) for two years from the date of the trip.
Note: where your trip involves special or heightened risks (such as skydiving or white water rafting, for example), please contact the Office of General Counsel when planning the trip, so that a special Agreement of Responsible Travel form outlining more specific risks can be tailored for your trip.
Q: May a student travel separately from the group if the student lives nearby or otherwise wants to make other travel plans on one end of the trip?
A: Yes, but the student should understand that the University will not be responsible for any loss, damage or liability incurred during such side travel. The Agreement of Responsible Travel provides for this.
Q: If W&L students will be engaging with minors during an off campus trip, is there any special guidance or orientation we should provide them?
A: Yes, if your trip will involve W&L students interacting with minors, please be sure that they review and that you discuss with them in advance the University's Guidelines for Interacting with Minors.
Q: Other questions?
A: Contact the Office of General Counsel or Associate Dean of the College, Wendy Price.