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Collegesí Civil Liability Exposure Related to Student Safety

Executive Summary


Thankfully, most students and parents are not in the position where civil action against a college is a consideration.  So why should all parents be familiar with the status of a collegeís civil responsibility and exposure related to lapses in student safety? 

 The answer is in one of the most troubling concepts encountered while researching the issue.  There are many aspects of student safety, especially with regards to alcohol use, where an institutionís legal advisors instruct the administrators that involving yourselves with controlling student behavior may create liability where the courts now say no exposure exists.

 Therefore, rather than doing what most parents would expect, many colleges and universities allow behaviors, such as underage and excessive drinking, go virtually unchecked.  This is necessary knowledge to have when assisting your child in choosing a college and for when you leave them with the institution for months at a time.

 The current status of the civil litigation environment related to student safety is characterized by:

  • Fall of loco parentis after the student rebellions of the 1960ís.
  • Four significant subsequent cases seemingly relinquished colleges from responsibility for student safety allows those institutions to act as bystanders with respect to student behavior issues-Bystander Cases.
  • More recent cases which reverses belatedly reverses this bystander approach and is gradually, but slowly working towards a more rational approach towards campus safety issues-Duty Era Cases.
  • A facilitator model suggested by Professors Robert Bickel and Peter Lake which hopefully will be affective in creating safer, more academic, learning environment on our nationís campuses.
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Information on Federal Law addressing campus drinking

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In loving Memory of Kristine Guest 


Civil Law-Detailed Analysis