MUNFA IB 2006/07:17

TO:		All MUNFA Members

FROM:		The MUNFA Executive Committee

DATE:		February 5, 2007

SUBJECT:	Off-campus Safety Policy and MUN's General Liability Policy

MUNFA sent a letter of September 28, 2006 (see below) to Dr. H.E.A. Campbell (Vice-President, Academic) regarding the Off-campus Safety Policy and MUN's General Liability Policy. These policies were to cover all work carried out by MUN employees and students away from the MUN campuses. It now appears that a new policy is under development, and currently it is listed at:

Dr. Campbell has not responded, and MUNFA's letter is being circulated for your information. If you have any questions, we urge you to contact Dr. Campbell.

September 28, 2006

Dr. H. E. A. Campbell
Vice President (Academic)
Memorial University of Newfoundland

Dear Dr. Campbell,

Re: Off-Campus Safety Policy and MUN's General Liability Policy

We have received several complaints from ASM's concerning the liability and burdens imposed on them by the Off-Campus Safety Policy (OCSP). One department in the Faculty of Science unanimously voted in a Faculty Meeting for MUNFA and their Department Head to vigorously pursue this issue with the Administration.

In response to these complaints MUNFA has sought legal advice about the OCSP. The legal opinion we obtained substantiates the concerns raised by the ASM's. The most salient points are as follows:

  1. the OCSP imposes comprehensive and onerous obligations on ASM's, such that any failure to comply could be used as a basis of a lawsuit.

  2. The obligations imposed by the policy exceed those of common law and thereby raise the standard expected of ASM's in the field.

  3. The OCSP makes field work a potential minefield of liability for ASM's.

We understand that ASM's conducting field work, supervising graduate students in the field, and teaching courses with a field component have always been vulnerable to lawsuits for negligence arising from loss or injury incurred in the field. However, the OCSP by instituting comprehensive obligations goes beyond the previously accepted standards and significantly increases the potential liability to ASM's. In effect the University and its insurer have made it easier to shift liability to ASM's.

Unless Memorial University can guarantee that it will cover any claim against an ASM, whether or not the insurer (i.e., Canadian Universities' Reciprocal Insurance Exchange CURIE) covers the loss, then ASM's liability risks are enormous. Since supervising graduate students and teaching assigned courses are key components of an ASM's workload, we feel that the University has unfairly and without consultation or adequate notification shifted liability onto its employees. We do not accept that ASMs bear personally the burden of liability for loss or injury that may occur to students as a consequence of students engaged in off-campus work that is necessary to the fulfillment of their degree requirements. ASMs who supervise such work are at all times acting as the agents of Memorial University.

It is the position of MUNFA that Memorial University should indemnify and save harmless ASMs and employees from all loss, cost, expense, judgment or damage on account of any injury or damage to students, which might occur as the result of such off-campus work. Memorial University must maintain adequate insurance to meet such liability.


Dr. W. Schipper
MUNFA President

c: Dr. A. Meisen
Ms. K. Hollett

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