Effective this term, Knox clubs and organizations need to obtain insurance for every speaker or guest they want to bring to campus.
The new policy originally required clubs and organizations to ask speakers to pay for themselves first and reimburse them later. As of several weeks ago, clubs can now opt to directly pay for the speakers instead. The insurance requirement complicates the process for some clubs, but was set in place to help protect Knox from liability, according to Assistant Director of Student Activities and Engagement Travis Greenlee.
“Whether we like it or not, folks are suing for various reasons,” he said. “We haven’t had an issue here, but thinking about the big picture, speakers sue when they get injured, whether it’s their fault or not, so having insurance is a safeguard to protect the institution.”
Greenlee also said that Knox is getting the insurance from two online resources that generate a certificate of liability after the college has submitted details of clubs’ programs, such as estimated attendance and size of the event. He acknowledged that the changes place an added financial burden on student groups.
“Students that have talked to me have been very flexible but I’m sure they are frustrated,” he said. “I am trying my best to ease the frustration to make the process as seamless as possible.”
M.E.Ch.A. was the first club to bring a speaker after this policy was effective.
“It [was] very uncomfortable for us because … it’s awkward to ask them to cough out $70 to $80,” said Co-President of M.E.Ch.A. senior Grecia Trevino.
Secretary of M.E.Ch.A. sophomore Karla Medina faced further complications after a speaker called with questions about the insurance form. She said she directed the speaker to Campus Life, which eventually referred the speaker directly to the insurance agency.
“She kept calling back and forth but she finally got it done,” said Medina. “It was frustrating for both of us because it was at the last minute and we weren’t told anything about such a policy.”
Presidents of other clubs expressed concerns over how the new policy would impact their budget.
President of A.B.L.E. senior Catlin Watts was particularly concerned about how the insurance policy would affect the number of speakers they bring every year for Black History Month during February.
“Now we need to factor insurance costs to our already limited budget,” said Watts. “And we might even limit our speakers listÉ because we already fulfilled our insurance and budget quota on other speakers.”
Watts isn’t sure all clubs are aware of the policy. The Knox Student was the first to notify her of the change. But she remains positive.
“I know there’s a good reason behind introducing this policy and I intend to talk to Campus Life about it soon” she said.
The insurance policy impacts Student Senate as well. Finance Chair senior Rahil Savani is in charge of managing additional fund requests, which he suspects clubs might file with greater frequency due to the new policy’s impact on their budgets. But he seems confident about tackling any problems that arise.
“It certainly makes things more expensive, but I’m willing to work through it,” he said.