Guide to Waivers and Releases

A waiver and release form must be used for all voluntary or extracurricular off-campus activities coordinated or sponsored by the University. The Release of Liability form (PDF) should be used for all off campus activities that require travel. 

Waivers and releases are written agreements that say the sponsor of an activity will not be liable for harm suffered by participants in the activity. In this context waivers and releases mean the same thing and are interchangeable.

Waivers and releases are designed to protect the University and its employees from legal liability for injuries that may occur to individuals who participate in voluntary or extracurricular activities on or off campus. They are valid and reliable legal tools under California Law.

Waivers signed prior to participation are viewed by the law as contracts or agreements in which the participant agrees to excuse the University and its employees from fault or liability for personal injuries associated with the activity. If the participant agrees in advance that the University or its employees owe him or her no duty, recovery from negligence is barred. Indemnity and hold-harmless provisions shift the responsibility for legal expenses associated with claims to the participant.

The failure of an individual to read a waiver does not excuse compliance. Under California law, it is incumbent upon individuals who do not read or understand English to have the release read or explained to them.

There is no legal requirement to provide waivers and releases in languages other than English. In general, state courts have held that English-language waivers signed by adults who cannot read English are valid.  The language in the waiver and release documents should not be altered. 

Waivers and releases cannot be the "fine print" in a larger publication, such as a brochure. They must be on a separate piece of white paper.  Any additional information the department wishes to furnish about an activity should be on a document separate from the waiver or release.

Informing students of added risk exposures prepares the students for the off campus activities and demonstrates the University’s level of care for its students. An informed consent document is used to convey the general risk exposures to the students, and may reduce the degree of fault or negligence that the University is charged by a court of law. An informed consent does not waive a student’s rights or release the University from liability.

When off-campus activities are a course requirement, faculty are encouraged to provide students with an Informed Consent form or incorporate the document language into the course syllabus.

Waivers and releases cannot be signed by minors. Activity participants under age 18 must have a waiver signed by a parent or legal guardian.

Anyone who refuses to sign a waiver should not be allowed to participate in the activity.

Some required academic course activities that take place away from campus may present additional risk exposures to University students. These risk exposures can be as mundane as vehicle travel in an unfamiliar area to the more unusual risk exposures of coastal scuba diving.

The General Release of All Claims Form has been developed for campus use by the CSU Office of General Counsel.  This form should be use for on campus activities that do not require travel.  Completed Releases must be retained for a minimum of two years following the activity for which the Release was executed.

This information provides general guidelines only. For further information concerning the use of waivers or releases, please contact Risk Management.