Field trips are defined as mandatory or voluntary activities outside the regularly scheduled class room/laboratory environment, arranged and led by a faculty or staff member. Field trips include travel within the continental United States.
The University recognizes that academic field trips are often an essential part of course work, however there are a number of risks associated with field trips. In accordance with CSU policy and as mandated by the Chancellor's Executive Order, we are responsible for conducting University activities in a manner that does not impose an unreasonable risk of loss or injury. Adherence to the following guidelines will increase safety and minimize University liability.
- Field trips should be developed that meet the course requirements, support the educational outcome of the course and result in course credit.
- Following selection of the field trip location, faculty or instructor should conduct a pre-trip site assessment. This assessment should include a site visit. The site visit can be bypassed with a written site assessment, provided the written assessment demonstrates sufficient knowledge of the site. The Academic Field Trip Site Assessment (PDF, 945KB) form may be used when completing a written site assessment.
- Prepare a detailed instructional agenda that includes health and safety instructions.
- List all participants, and provide a copy of that list to the program department. This list is essential in the event of a major accident or emergency occurring during the field trip.
- Plan for and accommodate students with special needs.
- Provide training for any special materials or equipment to be used on the field trip.
- Plan and include in the itinerary all destinations, and plan alternates should an emergency prevent entry to or exit from the original destination. Provide a copy of the itinerary to the program department.
- Review an emergency preparedness plan developed for the field trip. Distribute a handout to students with emergency numbers and contacts.
- Review permissible conduct rules. For example: CSU policy states that no alcoholic beverages or chemical substances, except personal prescription medication, shall be transported in any State or University vehicle, nor may either be transported in a private vehicle used in support of a University sponsored activity.
- Communicate codes of conduct for staff and students, addressing such issues as fraternizing, consuming alcohol, controlling activities, and personal conduct during "free time". Advise participants of the consequences of non-compliance and take the appropriate action when participants are in violation.
Authorized participants on a University field trip are University faculty, staff, enrolled students, and/or authorized CSU volunteers. To be authorized, a volunteer must complete two forms:
Participants' and employees' parents, spouses, partners, siblings and children may not participate in field trips. Pets may not participate in field trips.
To create the least liability for the University, students should be advised that they are responsible for arranging and providing their own transportation to the appropriate field trip location. It is strongly recommended that no offers are made to provide, arrange, coordinate or otherwise direct participants driving themselves in their own vehicles.
In cases where it is absolutely necessary to arrange transportation, transportation vendors contracted with the CSU should be used. Contact Procurement and Contract Services for approved transportation companies.
Authorized vehicle drivers for the University field trip include only University faculty, staff, and/or graduate and teaching assistants, whose duties are directly related to the class and/or field trip, as well as authorized volunteers designated for the field trip. Any driver on official University business must also take Defensive Driver training, as well as complete form STD 261 "Authorization to Use Privately Owned Vehicle on State Business" (PDF, 111KB) .
Release of Liability
To decrease University liability and increase student safety, hazards should be anticipated, and students should be informed of those hazards in writing. University liability exposure is further decreased by utilizing the "Release of Liability (PDF, 953KB)" form. All field trip participants are required to complete and sign this document.
Availability of Campus Police
University Police can be reached at (805) 437-8444 and are available 24 hours a day. Campus Police can assist in coping with a field trip emergency. Notify the University's Risk Management office as soon as possible in the event of an accident involving serious injury or death, multiple injuries, or extensive property damage.
What to Do in Case of a Vehicle Accident
If medical attention is needed for anyone involved in the accident, obtain necessary medical assistance immediately.
For all vehicle accidents while on University business (regardless of vehicle ownership) a "Vehicle Accident Report (PDF, 138KB)" Form STD 270 must be completed and submitted upon your return to campus to a direct supervisor, with a copy provided to the campus Risk Management office.
If driving a State vehicle: Use the "Accident Information Card", form STD 269, found in the glove compartment of all State vehicles. Share the information on the card with the other driver. Do not admit fault or make promises regarding the resolution of the situation. Call and report the accident to the campus Risk Management office at (805) 437-8846 as soon as possible.
If driving a private vehicle: Contact the vehicle owner's personal insurance carrier and report the accident immediately. All claims should be handled by that carrier. State employees driving their private vehicles on official business are reminded that the insurance maintained by the State is only for liability above the amounts of the employee's own automobile insurance policy limits.
If driving a rental vehicle: Contact the rental agency immediately and follow their instructions for reporting the accident and filing a claim. State employees are reminded that they must rent vehicles from one of the rental agencies contracting with the State of California. The contracted rental agencies provide insurance for bodily injury and property damage as part of their contract with the State.
What to Do in Case of an Injury
If anyone involved in the field trip is injured during the course of that activity, obtain necessary medical assistance immediately.
In the event of an accidental injury during a field trip, the student's personal health care policy provides primary medical coverage. Should the student's personal policy limits be reached, the CSU Student Travel Accident Insurance may help pay additional injury expenses, up to a maximum of $10,000. Please note that CSU Student Travel Insurance is automatically provided at no cost for students participating in off-campus field trips and there is no application process. Note also that this policy covers accidental injuries only – not illness or disease. In the event of an accident, please contact Risk Management to initiate a Student Travel Insurance claim.
If an employee is injured while participating in an approved university-sponsored activity, he or she may be eligible for Workers' Compensation benefits. Please contact Human Resources at (805) 437-8490 to discuss eligibility. Appropriate forms may be obtained from the employee's department, from Human resources, or from the campus Workers' Compensation Coordinator.