Metal Club expressed concern as problems arose when it found out its performers for an upcoming event need liability insurance in order to perform on campus.
Michael Pflughoeft, president of Metal Club, said he was worried when they first received this news.
“It cost one of our bands $800 to come out here, and they have to just eat that cost if they aren’t able to come out here,” Pflughoeft said.
The groups Metal Club will be bringing to campus were able to purchase liability insurance, but news of this policy change brought up many questions about how student organizations will bring in performers in the future, Pflughoeft said.
“The Metal Club has a bigger budget to be able to get some bigger bands,” Pflughoeft said. “My concern is for other student organizations that want to bring in speakers or performers who may never be able to have local bands perform because they aren’t going to be able to afford liability insurance,” .
According to University Police Lt. Trent Martin, the University took a stance to focus on risk, safety and security by hiring Bernard Sorenson as a full-time risk manager.
“We want to make campus as safe as possible and mitigate as much risk as possible,” Martin said. “So ultimately risk management fell under the umbrella and supervision of University Police.”
Sorenson said the way liability insurance is implemented at UWO is new even though the idea of it isn’t.
“The contracts have always stated that the bands are to have liability insurance,” Sorenson said. “Now, in the past, people may or may not have followed up with that, but because we perceived that it was a high-risk event, I felt it was my due diligence to make sure that that requirement of the contract was fulfilled.”
Sorenson said the decision for events to be considered high or low risk is based on a history of statistics that insurance agencies have.
“Based on their genre, number of participants and their class category of hazard, the insurance companies are going to give you a premium,” Sorenson said. “It has nothing to do with picking on any certain genre; it has to do with what that insurance company perceives as being high or low risk, which ultimately affects the cost.”
There were many influences that led to the decision to enforce liability insurance on the performers coming in for Metal Club, according to Sorenson.
“There’s been one documented injury in the past; we don’t have many details; people standing on tables and stuff like that,” Sorenson said. “I have only been here five months, so I have to base it off what people are telling me and there are 230-240 people that could be at this event and there could be moshing so there’s a potential of people hurting each other or property damage.”
Sorenson said these liability insurances are in place not only to protect the University but students and their organizations as well.
“More often than not, students are not covered under liability insurance,” Sorenson said. “When you have an outside group coming to the campus to provide a service, they have to have that liability insurance because if you don’t, all of those things that could potentially go wrong would be shifted onto us or the student.”
Martin addressed the issue with Metal Club as being the first student organization on campus to have these changes implemented on.
“As far as Metal Club goes, this is kind of one of the first ones that was developed as high risk that we’ve overviewed and looked into since Bernie started here at the University, but it’s also had a rippling effect that some of these other events on campus meet similar criteria,” Martin said.
According to Sorenson, his plans for implementing this change are still in progress, and he hopes to have a much smoother process in the future.
“It’s a very complicated subject, and we’re trying to figure out the best way to proceed with it; we have further meetings set up with Captain [Christopher] Tarmann and a number of other people that are on this campus to try to figure out this best way to get this information out and then to get it dealt with early in the process,” Sorenson said.
Martin said student involvement is very important to risk management and the UPD.
“We need to make sure we are accommodating those events but also mitigate any risk or liability for the University,” Martin said. “It’s very important that any suggestions or ideas from the student body and advisers have for how we can make this work are being heard. We’re not going to be making decisions solely based on our own opinions.”