Assumption of Risk, Waiver and Release

Learn about the Assumption of Risk, Waiver and Release process at Columbia University.

Assumption of Risk, Waiver and Release forms (Waivers) are interrelated components of the University's risk management efforts. At their core, Waivers seek to balance interest in offering and allowing exciting mission-supportive activities for CU affiliates with helping inform affiliates about potential risks while protecting the University from liability. Waivers help accomplish this end by ensuring that participants acknowledge and accept the potential risks involved in an underlying activity, and agree to release CU from certain liability as a result of their participation. Of course, in order to offer or allow such activities, Departments/Units must also ensure appropriate planning, approvals, and communication.

In general, waivers should be used for activities that carry a component of inherent risk, particularly those involving physical activity/exertion or travel outside of CU campuses. The below is a non-comprehensive listing of when waivers are required, recommended, and not required. Please email [email protected] should you have questions about a particular activity.

  • Waiver Required:
    • Any activity involving minors (to be signed by parent or guardian);
    • High risk activities with the potential for serious bodily injury or death (e.g., water, wilderness, wheeled activities, etc.);
    • Activities involving specific safety equipment (e.g., harnesses, helmets, etc.);
    • Activities outside of the NYC metro. 
  • Waiver Recommended:
    • Off-campus activities in the NYC metro;
    • Other recreational activities not included above.
  • Waiver Not Required/Recommended:
    • Low risk activities
    • Activities required for course completion/credit (with appropriate approvals).

Departments/Units should do the following:

  1. Download the CU Assumption of Risk, Waiver and Release
  2. Complete the Name of the Activity/Program section (e.g., Wildlife Club trip to the Bronx Zoo);
  3. Complete the Name of Department/Unit section;
  4. Complete the About the Activity section, being sure to describe unique risks posed by the activity;
  5. Lock the above fields from editing in Adobe (please contact Risk Management if you are unable to lock the form from editing);
  6. Distribute to participants for signature;
  7. Ensure participant signature prior to the activity in question. 

Completed Waivers should be retained by the Department/Unit for four years from the completed activity. 

Programs involving minors must ensure compliance with the Protection and Treatment of Minors Policy requirements.