Confidentiality of Records
The confidentiality of Bates student records is protected under provisions of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA).
This law specifies rights of access by a student, her or his parents (or guardians), and others to the student’s educational record, the release of “directory information,” the location of these records, and procedures for correcting the records. Students and parents are notified of these rights in the Student Handbook and College Catalog; entering students are asked to sign a FERPA Release Form indicating any third party to whom records may be released on a regular basis such as parents or guardians.
What are “Educational Records” overseen by FERPA?
Educational records consist of those records pertaining to admitted students that are maintained by the college. Such records may be found in offices of the Registrar, Student Affairs, Student Financial Services, Career Services, Financial Aid, and faculty advisors. Education records may be in held in any format, such as data in a computer database, printed on paper, or hand-written.
Can a student view their educational records?
In most cases, students may gain access to their record by request to the appropriate staff member. In other cases, the request is made in writing to the Registrar’s Office and access will be granted within 45 days or less. Students may only view their own record and any educational record that includes personally identifiable information regarding another student(s) will be redacted before viewing is permitted. Students do not have the right of access to parental financial statements, letters of recommendation for which they waived their right of access, and other material not defined as educational records under the Law.
The Law allows institutions to release “directory information” so they may, at their discretion, publish information which would not generally be considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed, such as student-faculty directories, rosters with team line-ups for sporting contests, and the like. Bates identifies the following as directory information: name; Bates identification (ID) number; class; address (campus, home, and e-mail); telephone listings; major and minor fields of study; participation in officially recognized sports, extracurricular activities, and off-campus study programs; dates of attendance; degrees, honors, and awards received from the college; and individually identifiable photographs and electronic images of the student solicited or maintained directly by Bates as part of the educational record. Students may request that this information be withheld and should write the Office of the Registrar by August 1 if they would like this to be done.
How does Bates protect student records?
The College does not disclose other information from a student’s educational record without written consent of the student except, as allowed under the Law, to specific individuals or in special circumstances. These authorized exceptions include College employees with legitimate educational interests, colleges to which the student is transferring, certain government officials carrying out lawful functions, appropriate parties in connection with financial aid, organizations conducting studies for the school, accrediting organizations, individuals with court orders, and persons with a need-to-know in health and safety emergencies. The College keeps a record of each outside request for individual information, which is also available for student review.
The law allows Bates to disclose to parents or legal guardians of students who are under 21 information regarding a student’s violation of any law or College policy governing the use or possession of alcohol or controlled substances if the College determines that the student has committed a disciplinary violation with respect to the use or possession. In addition, the law allows Bates to disclose personally identifiable information to appropriate parties in connection with an emergency if the information is necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or other individuals.
What if I believe there is an error in my record?
Students may request the correction of parts of their educational record believed to be inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise in violation of their privacy or other rights. Such requests should be addressed to the Registrar’s Office in writing and may result in a hearing. If the College decides not to amend the record, the student has a right to place a statement in the record commenting on the contested information.
Further questions on the Law should be addressed to the Registrar, the Dean of Students, the Dean of Faculty, the President, or to the Family Policy Compliance Office, U.S. Department of Education, Washington, DC 20202.