Student Affairs sponsors numerous off-campus activities involving students. The liability risk to the University for such activities is significant. To effectively manage these activities, Student Affairs has developed the following guidelines. Although no set of guidelines can guarantee the health and safety needs of each individual involved in an off-campus program, these guidelines address issues that merit attention and thoughtful judgment.
For the purposes of this communication, the staff adviser, coordinator, director or other persons overseeing the off-campus activity shall be identified as the Responsible University Official (RUO). The RUO is responsible for compliance of this policy.
Note: These guidelines also apply to registered student organizations if the activity or event is organized and sponsored by UT Dallas, and if travel to the activity or event is funded and undertaken using a vehicle leased by UT Dallas. Registered student organizations may not require members to attend an activity or event covered by these guidelines that results in travel beyond 25 miles from UT Dallas.
Student Travel and Off-Campus Activities Guidelines
Responsible University Official (RUO)
At least one staff member, RUO, must accompany students on any off-campus activity. Staff are responsible for knowing the University student standards of conduct and the policies as outlined in this communication. The consequences of noncompliance must be made clear to participants, and the RUO must take appropriate action when aware that participants are in violation. Staff is trained annually regarding this policy, the sexual harassment policy, ADA guidelines and the University student standards of conduct.
All health and safety conditions for each program must be assessed. Health and safety information must be provided for prospective participants so they can make informed decisions concerning preparation, participation and behavior while on the trip.
A mandatory orientation must be provided for participants prior to the program and as needed on site. Information about safety, health, legal, environmental, political, cultural, and/or religious conditions as they relate to the specific activity, and appropriate emergency response measures must be included. Participants should be informed of as much detail about the trip as possible, including any known risks. Refer to the Emergency Response Plan and fill this form out before travel commences. Expected behavior and provisions for transportation and accommodation must be clearly expressed. (The Participant Responsibility form can be used as a guide for orientation information.)
To download forms, visit the Office of Administration - Travel-related Risk webpage.
Each participant, or the participant's parent/guardian in the case of a minor, must complete and sign the Release and Indemnity Agreement and the Medical Information and Release form. The RUO is responsible for maintaining these records in a manner that ensures timely access to the medical information for each participant in case of an accident or health-related emergency.
Copies of the Team/Group Travel Authorization form (e-forms) must be submitted to the Dean of Students and the UT Dallas Chief of Police prior to each trip that includes an overnight stay. A Participant Responsibility form must be signed by each trip participant and submitted to the RUO. Note: Minors may (in lieu of a parent) sign the release form for local trips.
A designated contact person in the Student Affairs unit that is sponsoring the travel or activity must maintain the completed forms for a period of two years. When travel is involved, the Release and Indemnification Agreements should be attached to the unit's copy of the Travel Authorization or, in the case of group travel, to the Team/Group Travel Authorization, and copies of the forms must be provided to the Office of Procurement Management.
Students traveling on a University-sponsored overnight trip must have medical insurance. Student health insurance is available at minimal cost. Insurance may be provided by the sponsoring office as part of the cost of the activity, or may be purchased by individual students. Note: The athletics department provides separate insurance for student-athletes.
Weapons, Drugs, and Alcohol
Use or possession of weapons, alcohol or illegal drugs is forbidden while traveling on a University-sponsored trip.
Departmental property must be cared for properly. Participants may be charged a reasonable replacement fee for lost or damaged equipment.
Rented Vehicles/Charter Buses
The UT Dallas safety officer must certify all drivers of rental vehicles. Approval includes the driver being a University employee, having a valid operator's license with a motor vehicle record score of 2 or better, and participating in classroom instruction and hands-on training (vans only). Drivers of motor vehicles shall comply with all laws, regulations and obey posted signs regarding speed and traffic control, or as otherwise directed by the University safety officer. All trips must be booked through the UT Dallas contracted rental company or a chartered bus company. All forms must be completed and all guidelines followed whether travel is in rental vehicles, chartered bus or other carrier.
The distance to the destination and/or the number of participants needing transportation determines the type of transportation to be used. Each vehicle using UT Dallas drivers should attempt to have a minimum of two drivers, but trips exceeding 200 miles must have at least two drivers per vehicle. On long trips, drivers should rotate every three hours*, and no more than eight hours of driving should be completed during any one day. There should be no driving between the hours of 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. without prior approval of the appropriate administrative official. No more than nine people plus gear should be loaded on any one van.
The weight of the passengers and their gear should be distributed evenly throughout the van. On trips where the number of participants exceeds that which can comfortably fit on two or three vans, a chartered bus should be considered. For athletic trips of a distance greater than 200 miles and that require late-night driving after a competition, professional drivers must be contracted. Note: All vehicles must have access to a cellular phone, and the number must be indicated on the team/group travel authorization.
Occupants of motor vehicles shall use seat belts or other approved safety restraint devices required by law or regulation at all times when the vehicle is in operation. Drivers of all motor vehicles must check to make sure that the vehicle has a current proof of liability insurance card and state inspection certification before departing from campus.
* There may be occasions when, in the best judgment of the RUO, circumstances such as weather, road construction, sleep deprivation of drivers, unsafe operation of vehicle by drivers, etc., would make this rotation unsafe. Such decisions should be documented by the RUO in the after-trip report.
Circumstances such as terrain, road conditions, length of trip, etc. may make it prudent that students go with available group transportation rather than travel in a personal vehicle. In some situations, it may be that travel with the group should be required. The staff member should consider this issue as he or she would any safety matter. In all cases where an adult participant is permitted to choose to drive/ride in private transportation, that circumstance should be described in the Mode of Transportation line on the indemnification form.
It would be best to limit the transportation of minors who are not accompanied by a parent/guardian to UT Dallas owned/leased/rental vehicles or vehicles driven by UT Dallas employees within the scope of their employment. Such a requirement should be stated on the indemnification form and parents of minors must know of this arrangement.
The RUO must implement the following procedures in the event of an emergency:
- Notify local authorities by calling 911.
- Call the 800 number provided by the rental company.
- Fill out the Critical Incident Report and forward to Dean of Students
When any incident occurs, i.e. accident, mechanical failure, medical emergency, code of conduct violation, etc., the RUO must call his/her supervisor immediately (or as soon as possible), and the supervisor will notify the Dean of Students. A meeting must be called within 24 hours of returning from the trip to investigate the incident. A report must be presented to the dean complete with recommendations on how to correct for future problems of a similar nature.
Side Trips/Early and Late Departures
Non-University business side trips, such as a trip for entertainment purposes during Alternative Spring Break, must be planned and approved in advance. Trips to known high-risk areas such as across the border into Mexico, beach parties such as South Padre, etc., will not be approved. Spontaneous activities while on the primary trip, such as going to a local movie or special restaurant, shall be at the discretion of the RUO. Students traveling on trips where the University funds expenses must arrive at and depart the site at the same time as the advisers. The RUO's immediate supervisor and the Dean of Students must approve any exceptions to this policy.