The Journey in Creating Participant Expectations

July 04, 2011

Judith Sperling
Assistant Director – Risk Management, Training & Development
UCLA Recreation

The ‘Participant Expectations’ was a project of UCLA Recreation’s Risk Management Team. Team members were often confronted by participants who could not be reasonably coached in complying with facility use and safety policies. Some participants did not have a relationship with the campus where they knew about or shared our community values and commitment to safety. We realized that we had not been successful in conveying what being a part of UCLA Recreation meant. Use of facilities and participating in programs was a privilege worth having and we needed to communicate our campus’ vision of a cooperative and tolerant community.
Our first step was to look to our sister UC campuses to see what they were doing. We found many helpful resources as this was a common problem. We combined the best of what we found in a first draft. We circulated our draft with many of our campus resources. The UC Police Department was helpful in the sections relating to criminal behavior as well as providing the language they required to effectively address potential situations and make arrests if necessary. Our campus counsel provided many helpful suggestions with language that effectively informs participants and could prevent potential litigation. The Dean of Students office which handles student discipline contributed content where they had jurisdiction. With all of these resources contributing, we went through several drafts before achieving something which we felt could stand the test of time. Originally the document was titled “Code of Conduct” which was dropped in favor of “Participant Expectations” so that it would have a singular identity and not be confused with our more global campus code of conduct for students.

Once we had the text, our next step was to design our creation so that we would have a consistent look within all of our facilities as well as incorporating our brand. Our marketing staff came up with a design that is attractive, noticeable and easy to read.

The “Participant Expectations” was ready to live on the web yet we still weren’t quite done! Each facility was inventoried and we determined how many signs would be needed, what size they should be and what would be the best locations. Research was conducted into what type of materials would be the most suitable for indoor vs. outdoor locations and what vendors could produce the signs according to our needs and requirements.

It took over a year to get exactly what we really needed and the time invested has been worth it. We now have something that has already reaped some benefits. The first time we had a patron request staff intervention because someone wasn’t complying with the “Participant Expectations”, we knew that the project was a success. It was exactly what we hoped for, staff and participants working as a team, sharing values, insisting on accountability and contributing to our community vision.

To view the “Participant Expectations”, click here:   Participant Expectations

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