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Waivers, also known as Releases, are contracts with individuals in which the individual agrees to release of Smith College, its trustees, officers, directors, employees, agents and assigns from liability arising out of the actions of Smith College even if the College is somehow negligent. This release is given in consideration of something of value for example financial support or permission to participate in a program. Waivers must be given of the signer’s free will; the signer must be at least 18 years old and otherwise legally competent to sign the waiver. The signer must be given reasonable advance notice of the requirement of a waiver for an activity, and a reasonable period in which to read it and sign it.

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a very waiver-friendly state as long as the waiver is properly constructed:

  • The waiver must clearly state the parties included in the waiver.
  • The waiver must indicate that signing the waiver will compromise the signer’s future rights against the included parties.
  • The waiver must identify the activities.
  • The waiver must inform the participant (signer) of his/her responsibilities in relation to the activities.
  • The waiver must clearly inform the participant of the risks involved in the activity.
  • The waiver must have a clear release.
  • It is stated that the waiver is being signed of the signer’s own free will.
  • Indemnity agreements as “enforcement” clauses to the waiver are permitted in Massachusetts and are used in our waivers.

In addition, the standard Smith waiver form includes a choice of law and legal forum (Massachusetts) clause and may contain a “covenant not to sue” clause.

Waivers may only be used for voluntary activities. Activities that are required for academic credit (e.g., a mandatory field trip) should use an informed consent form.

Waivers should be given to participants in a program at the time of registration; you may not ask participants to sign a waiver when they show up to participate (e.g., as they are boarding the bus unless they have had prior notice of it and an opportunity to read it carefully).

Waivers should be as specific as possible to the activities to which the waiver applies.

We do not permit signers to modify the waiver. Requiring the waiver as a condition of participation is not in of itself coercive, as the participant can forgo the activity rather than sign the waiver.

See Template Forms for template waivers and releases. Questions regarding the use of waivers should be directed to the Risk Manager.

Use of Image Release

Image release forms can be highly nuanced depending on the circumstances for which the release is requested. The template provided here is intended for participants or speakers in college programs. Consult with Risk Management if the release form does not accurately capture the concerns of your event or program, or if the number of attendees of your program makes the use of the release form impractical.