In April an important decision will be made at Yuba College concerning the future of field trips and excursions for students. Questions of safety and liability have prompted Yuba College administrators to make revisions to existing procedures.
According to Dr. Alan Lowe, Vice President of Instructional Services, the Community College League of California sends updates on community college policies to Yuba College. Once these have been received by Yuba College, amendments may be made. Procedures, such as that of Administrative Procedure 4300-Field Trips and Excursions, have been in revision during the last academic year.
According to Sara Sealander, Professor of Art and Humanities at Yuba College, last Spring sometime, some questions were raised about the legality and some insurance liability issues around foreign travel. Four faculty and four administrators united to form an eight-person field trip task force and created a matrix, or a compilation of rules and regulations for field trips at Yuba College.
“They united to make the field trips legal, fair,” Sealander said. Sealander is one of four members of the faculty on that task force.
The task force was created to make sure that if a field trip is taken at Yuba College, all aspects of that field trip have been explored to the finest detail.
Among others, such details ensure that everyone who qualifies must be given the opportunity to attend the trip, that all precautions have been taken to ensure the safety of students and staff during the trip and that an itinerary describing the trip must be submitted a year ahead of time so that if a trip is approved, Yuba College is able to receive money for it.
“If somebody sued us, the award will be minimal because we’ve taken all the precautions,” said Dr. Lowe. “We have to make sure we’ve covered everything.”English Professor Richard Edmunds, a faculty member of the field trip task force, supports field trips for students and believes that students should be able to get the opportunity to travel overseas or out-of-state. This is an opportunity that a student may not get again in a lifetime.
“It’s so beneficial,” Edmunds said. ” It’s such an education, a marvelous program.”According to Rick Murai, photography instructor and member of the task force at Yuba College, in years past, there was no cohesive policy on the entire travel contract that included all the trips.
“Before, it was bits and pieces, in-state hasn’t really changed,” he said. Rick Murai has taken students on overseas trips for the past 20 years.
Currently, the Title V, Section 55450, of the California Code of Regulations, states that the Board of Trustees delegates authority to the Superintendent-President, or her/his designee, to approve field trips and excursions taken within the District and the State of California.
Those field trips or excursions that are out-of-state or to foreign counties must have the approval of the Board of Trustees.
The Yuba Community College District Board must be informed prior to planning any such trip and give its conceptual approval, with the final approval granted by the Board only after a careful review by the Superintendent-President and upon her/his recommendation.
The matrix has been reviewed by the college president’s executive staff that has created questions about it. Once reviewed again, the matrix then has to be verified and signed off by insurance and legal before the final revised copy is presented and approved by the board.
“We have to have open notification,” Lowe said. “Otherwise, we can’t collect money for this.”
According to Dr. Lowe, out-of-state and out-of-country trips may be considered if all in-state options have been thoroughly exhausted. Furthermore, meeting field trip needs in contiguous states should be considered before planning trips not bordering California.
An example Dr. Lowe used was if a class was considering a trip to a place or event that takes place in Nevada and New York, the class would have to first thoroughly explore the Nevada option before even considering attending the event in New York.
“Not only do you have to prove to me why you have to go, but you have to prove to me that there’s not one closer that you can go to,” said Lowe. “We have to do things legally.” Approval of the matrix by the Yuba College Board of Trustees is scheduled to take place this April.