This academic affairs case involves a female student who was injured during a college field trip. As part of an ongoing program for student enrichment, multiple field trip options were offered to all members of the sophomore class. The student did not get selected to attend the trip of her preference and was thus required to attend a trip that involved hiking through the local wilderness. While the student had no previous experience in hiking or outdoor activities, the organization that was to conduct the outing was obliged to provide a safe and enjoyable experience for the students. During the trip, the students were required to scale a wall of rock in order to reach the next section of trail. There were no safety features put in place during this climb. While she was scaling the wall, the student fell from a considerable height and suffered severe and permanent injuries that will require a lifetime of special care. It was alleged that the university failed to properly vet the company that oversaw the field trip, and therefore failed to ensure a safe experience for students on the trip.
Question(s) For Expert Witness
- 1. As an administrator, were you responsible for overseeing policies pertaining to school off site functions?
- 2. What safety measures should be taken to ensure that students only participated in safe activities and are never placed in harms way?
Expert Witness Response E-000670
As an administrator I was responsible for the development and oversight of policies and procedures pertaining to school off-site functions. First, the activity needs to be evaluated with regard to educational relevance and overall safety. Safety is assessed by reviewing and knowing the ability and knowledge level of proposed participants in the activity, researching the safety and injury record of the activity, training supervisors and chaperones so they are aware of the dangers of participation in the activity and how to communicate that awareness to participants, and warning participants of the danger of harm if he or she fails to apply appropriate techniques, equipment, and instructions. If an activity is viewed by any reasonable person as generally unsafe, the administration should not plan for students to partake in the activity, thereby keeping participants safe and out of harm’s way. In this instance, it seems that there was a failure on the part of the university administration to execute due diligence in vetting the organization that oversaw this field trip, and that there were obvious oversights that contributed to the dangerous situation that caused this accident.