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Institutional Policy on the Privacy Rights of Students

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 is a Federal law which states (a) that a written institutional policy must be established and (b) that a statement of adopted procedures covering the privacy rights of students must be made available.  The law provides that the institution will maintain the confidentiality of student education records.

William Carey University accords all the rights under the law to students who are declared independent.  No one outside the institution shall have access to, nor will the institution disclose any information from, students’ education records without the written consent of students except to personnel within the institution, to officials of other institutions in which students seek to enroll, to persons or organizations providing students financial aid, to accrediting agencies carrying out their accreditation function, to persons in compliance with a judicial order, and to persons in an emergency in order to protect the health or safety of students or other persons.  All these exceptions are permitted under the Act.

Within the William Carey University community, only those members, individually or collectively, acting in the students’ educational interest are allowed access to student education records.  These members include personnel in the Office of the Registrar, the Office of Academic Vice-President, the Business Office, Financial Aid, the Office of Admissions, and academic personnel within the limitations of their need to know.

At its discretion the institution may provide Directory Information in accordance with the provisions of the Act to include:  student name, address, telephone number, date and place of birth, major field of study, dates of attendance, degrees and awards received, the most recent previous educational agency or institution attended by the student, participation in officially recognized activities and sports, weight and height of members of athletic teams, and other similar information.  Students may withhold Directory Information by notifying the Registrar’s Office in writing on or before the first day of classes of each trimester/term.  Forms for this purpose are available in the Registrar’s Office.  In the event a refusal is not filed, the institution assumes that a student does not object to the release of the directory information designated.

Request for non-disclosure will be honored by the institution for only one academic year; therefore, authorization to withhold Directory Information must be filed annually in the Office of the Registrar.

The law provides students with the right to inspect and review information contained in their education records, to challenge the contents of their education records, to have a hearing if the outcome of the challenge is unsatisfactory, and to submit explanatory statements for inclusion in their files if they feel the decisions of the hearing committee to be unacceptable.  The Registrar has been designated by the institution to coordinate the inspection and review procedures for student education records, which include admissions, personal, academic, and financial files, and academic, and placement records.  Students wishing to review their education records must make written requests to the Registrar listing the item or items of interest.  Only records covered by the Act will be made available within forty-five days of the request.  Students may have copies made of their records with certain exceptions, (e.g., a copy of the academic record for which a financial “hold” exists, or a transcript of an original or source document which exists elsewhere).  These copies would be made at the students’ expense at prevailing rates.  Education records do not include records of instructional, administrative, and educational personnel which are the sole possession of the maker and are not accessible or revealed to any individual except a temporary substitute, records of the law enforcement unit, student health records, employment records, or alumni records.  Health records, however, may be reviewed by physicians of the students’ choosing. 

Students may not inspect and review the following as outlined by the Act:  financial information submitted by their parents, confidential letters and recommendations associated with admissions, employment or job placement, or honors to which they have waived their rights of inspection and review; or education records containing information about more than one student, in which case the institution will permit access only to that part of the record which pertains to the inquiring student. 

Students who believe that their education records contain information that is inaccurate or misleading, or is otherwise in violation of their privacy or other rights may discuss their problems informally with the Office of the Registrar.  If the decisions are in agreement with the student’s request, the appropriate records will be amended.  If not, the student will be notified within a reasonable period of time that the records will not be amended; and he/she will be informed by the Office of the Registrar of his/her right to a formal hearing.  Student requests for a formal hearing must be made in writing to the Vice-President for Academic Affairs, who, within a reasonable period of time after receiving such requests, will inform the student of the date, place, and the time of the hearing.  The student may present evidence relevant to the issues raised and may be assisted or represented at the hearings by one or more persons of his/her choice, including attorneys, at the students’ expense. 

Decisions of the hearing committee will be final, will be based solely on the evidence presented at the hearing, and will consist of written statements summarizing the evidence and stating the reasons for the decisions, and will be delivered to all parties concerned.  The education records will be corrected or amended in accordance with the decisions of the hearing committee, if the decisions are in favor of the student.  If the decisions are unsatisfactory to the student, the student may place with the education records statements commenting on the information in the records, or statements setting forth any reasons for disagreeing with the decisions of the hearing committee.  The statements will be placed in the education records, maintained as part of the student’s record, and released whenever the records in question are disclosed.

Students who believe that the adjudications of their challenges were unfair, or not in keeping with the provisions of the Act, may request in writing assistance from the President of the institution.  Further, students who believe that their rights have been abridged may file complaints with The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act Office (FERPA), U. S. Department of Education; 400 Maryland Avenue, SW; Washington, D.C. 20202.