Students can protect information

Information regarding the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 was sent out to all UW-Whitewater university e-mails to remind students of their rights.

“FERPA is important because it gives students certain rights in regards to the privacy of their educational records,” Director of Admissions and Registrar’s Office Jodi Hare said.

According to the Registrar’s Office website, educational records are those maintained by UW-Whitewater and directly related to the student. Any record containing a student’s name or additional information that can personally identify a student is protected under FERPA.

The three main rights protected under FERPA include the students’ rights to review and inspect their educational records, their right to have their educational records amended or corrected; and their rights to control disclosure of certain portions of their educational records.

“Students need to know there is releasable directory information that is available to the public about their attendance, which can have both benefits and drawbacks,” Hare said.

Unless a student requests the information to be kept private, FERPA considers the following to be of public record: student name and address, e-mail and telephone number, dates of attendance, enrollment status; classification, major, minor and degree program, previous institutions attended, awards and academic honors, and participation in officially recognized sports and activities. Physical features of student-athletes, including height and weight, are also considered public record.

If a student wishes for their records to be released, they must identify the party or parties to whom the records will be released to and the reason for release. A consent form can be downloaded under the FERPA section on the UWW Registrar’s Office website, registrar.

The student’s written and signed consent, for example, could be to release his or her grades to a potential employer as part of the application process, or even to a scholarship committee member as part of the application process.

Students should know they can also restrict the release of directory information, which again can have both benefits and unexpected consequences, Hare said.

According to the UW-Whitewater FERPA policy statement, “FERPA rights cease upon a student’s death.”

UW-Whitewater does not permit releasing educational records of a deceased student until 25 years after his or her death, unless the release is authorized. The authorization can be made by the executor of the deceased student’s estate, the student’s parents, or the next closely related person to the deceased if both the parents have passed and an executor had never been named.

Any questions regarding students’ rights under FERPA should be directed toward the Registrar’s Office at 262-472-1570. The FERPA policy is also available online at the UW-Whitewater student website under announcements.