Confidentiality on Campus

Confidentiality on Campus
Posted by FoM on October 20, 1999 at 07:30:47 PT
By Jennifer Sandmann, Times-News writer 
Source: Times-News Online
TWIN FALLSEven if Mom and Dad pay for college, it doesn't mean they have a legal right to know if Johnny is flunking out of school or breaking campus rules. 
Like other schools, the College of Southern Idaho is bound by the Family Education Rights Privacy Act that protects student privacy. For years, higher education has strictly interpreted the law that prohibits colleges from giving out information about students, but recently institutions have eased up at least in the realm of campus discipline. And last year, Congress amended federal confidentiality laws to give universities the option of telling parents when students under 21 violate campus codes on drugs or alcohol. So far it hasn't changed policy at CSI when it comes to connecting students with parents, but CSI President Jerry Meyerhoeffer said it's something the college probably should look at. CSI already encourages students in trouble to inform their parents, said Graydon Stanley, director of student information. He advises students to tell their parents if they get dismissed from school. Parents probably will find out anyway, so he encourages students to make the call from his office. "We've tried to involve the family as much as possible," he said. Most students make the call. For the few who don't, Stanley says he informs parents that they probably have something they need to talk with their students about. He doesn't give details. It's a touchy matter, Stanley said. The college treats students as adults, but at the same time recognizes that some students need family intervention. "I think it's OK to inform the parents of what's going on so they can be prepared," student body President A.J. Buhler said. It can help parents to let them know if a student is facing dismissal. That could help parents prepare for suddenly having a grown child in the house who needs help, she said. But she doesn't think parents should be held responsible by the college for their students' actions, because going to college is about learning to be a responsible adult. "Nationally, campuses find themselves in a dilemma. The public expectation is that students will graduate with good grades, get good jobs and do so in a safe environment," said Nancy Schulte, coordinator of drug education services at George Mason University in Virginia, who served on a national alcohol task force. At the University of Delaware, administrators decided to share with parents all information concerning students who had been found guilty of violating campus code -- from sexual assault to academic dishonesty to underage drinking. Under the policy, students with three alcohol or drug violations are suspended from campus. In the past two years the school has seen dramatic improvements in what once was a serious problem with campus alcohol abuse, said Tim Brooks, dean of students. At CSI, student records remain as private as always, said John Martin, director of admissions and records. But he has received a call or two from fathers paying college bills who can't believe they aren't allowed to see their students' grades. "I certainly can commiserate with them about the problem," Martin said. Exceptions would help in some serious cases, he said, but the law is there for student protection. In the past 10 years, he has had a handful of situations where a stalker has sought information. The law prohibits the college from even telling someone that a student attends school there. Procedures allow financial institutions, law enforcement or other agencies to request verification of a student's attendance and other information. Wednesday, October 20, 1999 -- Twin Falls, Idaho The Associated Press contributed to this report. Copyright (c) 1999, Magic Valley NewspapersRelated Article:Parents May Get Word If College Students Err - 10/11/99
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