Sign and Release? Using Waivers and Releases as Risk-Management Tools

Campus Activities Programming, January/February 2010

6 Pages Posted: 11 Jan 2010

Date Written: January 2010


Many on- and off-campus activities provide students with tremendous educational and social benefits. But these same activities can also carry risks. As part of an overall risk-management plan for an activity or an event, a campus activities department might consider whether it is appropriate to request participating students to sign a release, waiver, or similar exculpatory agreement.

Although many think of waivers and releases simply as tools to shift risk or avoid liability, they can actually be used for our students’ benefit. If properly drafted, waivers and releases can provide students with a balanced view of the activity, convey information that will allow them to decide whether to participate, and educate them about how to stay safe while participating.

It is best to view waivers and releases as just one part of a comprehensive risk-management process, and not as stand-alone documents or single-step risk plans. It is also important to understand that an activities department should not have a “standard release.” Instead, waivers and releases should be tailored to the particular event, activity, or trip. The article expands on these and related points.

Keywords: waiver, release, risk management, college, University, students, risk, exculpatory agreement, student organization, event, liability

JEL Classification: K12, K13, K41

Suggested Citation

Dickerson, Darby, Sign and Release? Using Waivers and Releases as Risk-Management Tools (January 2010). Campus Activities Programming, January/February 2010. Available at SSRN:

Darby Dickerson (Contact Author)

UIC John Marshall Law School ( email )

300 S. State Street
Chicago, IL 60604
United States

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics