Student Event Risk Management Program


On campuses across North America, the relationship between Student Affairs and Student Unions varies considerably. In addition, the level of risk management planning for student-run events also differs from institution to institution. Hence the ‘Student Event Risk Management’ program (SERM) is designed to be flexible, and the overall program can be adjusted and customized to meet specific institutional needs and situations.

The SERM program focuses on a process to manage the risks involved in Student Events.
Event Risk Assessment and Approval, and the critical role played by the
Primary Event Organizer (PEO)
are key elements of this four-step process:

  • Club President and/or PEO identified for all Clubs
  • Club President and/or PEO attend Training Workshops
  • Event ‘Risk Assessment Form’ Completed for each event
  • Event Approved

The SERM program involves an onsite visit (typically 1-2 days), and focuses on a 3-stage event management process plus the major role played by the Primary Event Organizer (PEO). This 3-stage process is the major focus of meetings with various event stakeholders (Student Union, Student Affairs, Residences, Security, Risk Manager etc.):

  1. Event risk assessment (using a detailed survey)
  2. Training of PEO’s in negligence awareness and event planning (the PEO Training Module)
  3. Event approval.

Event approval is contingent on completion of stages 1 and 2.

During the onsite visit, the PEO Training Module is demonstrated. In addition, a SERM Resource Manual is provided to the University and Student Union to assist in their event planning efforts.  These Workshops can act as ‘stand-alone’ training workshops, or be incorporated into current training schedules.

All schools (involved in on-site visit or not) have access to the PEO Training Module through a series of five (5) pre-recorded Webinars. These workshops can be purchased on line, as a set.

The 5 Training Workshops

  1. ‘Primary Event Organizer Process’ (PEO Process)
    Aimed specifically at student leaders, PEO’s and Residence RA’s, this Workshop is designed to:

    • Raise awareness levels on risk, negligence, accountability, and the importance of event planning
    • Introduce student leaders and PEO’s to the 3-step risk management process
    • Introduce basic event planning skills.
  2. ‘Event Planning’
    The objective of this Workshop is to provide event planners with the necessary planning skills and tools to organize and implement safe events.
    The Workshop is structured into 3 sections:

    • Event Assessment & Approval
    • Event Planning
    • Event Planning Resources
  3. ‘PEO Process plus Event Planning’
    This combination workshop allows participants to view both workshops consecutively.
  4. ‘Events – Let’s Get Real!’
    In this workshop,  a much more hard-hitting approach is adopted.  This ‘blunt’ approach may be needed for student event organizers who still ‘don’t get it’, and need an extra jolt of reality!
  5. ‘Event Risk Profile’
    This workshop provides hands-on training on how to determine just how risky an event is.  By assigning values to ‘probability’ and ‘severity’, it is possible to calculate a risk rating for an event.  Does the event have too high a risk rating, and if yes, what are the options: cancel – or modify to make the risk more manageable?

Benefits of purchasing these training Webinars include (a) no need to train campus personnel on workshop content (b) no travel costs involved for on-site delivery (c) no staff travel costs to external conferences.


In July of 2015 California State University, Chico had the opportunity to participate in Sport Risk’s new ‘Best Practices’ risk management review conducted by Ian McGregor & Associates. Ian is clearly one of the most knowledgable and experienced leaders in risk management practices and our institution was excited to be one of the first Universities to use this new evaluation process. 

 While evaluating our programs we found his work to be innovative, comprehensive, and easy to use throughout all aspects of our various recreation programs. Because of his outstanding work we are using the recommendations as a catalyst for program improvement.  Being able to contrast our practices with other NIRSA institutions is invaluable in bringing our programs to a higher standard of excellence. Without hesitation, I would recommend this process to any collegiate recreation program who is interested in current, state of the art, risk management practices. You will find Ian McGregor and Associates to be professional and cost effective in helping you meet your administrative responsibilities.

Kimberly Scott

Director of Recreational Sports
Associate Director of Student Life
California State University, Chico

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