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ERIC Number: EJ831860
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Feb-6
Pages: 1
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0009-5982
Student-Privacy Rules Show a Renewed Trust in Colleges
Lake, Peter
Chronicle of Higher Education, v55 n22 pA72 Feb 2009
New regulations for the Family Rights and Privacy Act (Ferpa), which governs the privacy of student records, become effective this month. Announced by the Department of Education in December 2008, the regulations empower colleges to act appropriately and decisively to protect the health and safety of students and others. They also signify a new relationship between colleges and the federal government. The most significant features of the revised regulations relate to a health-and-safety exception that is part of Ferpa. The exemption provides that otherwise protected student information may be divulged "in connection with an emergency if knowledge of the information is necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or other individuals." In the past, colleges have grappled with how to define an emergency, and the law has implied that only an extreme situation could trump student privacy. The new rules try to strike a better balance between privacy and safety, explicitly giving colleges more discretion in situations such as the 2007 Virginia Tech tragedy, when a mentally disturbed student embarked on a campus-wide shooting spree. The revised Ferpa laws demonstrate that colleges have earned a renewed level of trust from federal regulators, and they portend greater support from, and cooperation with, the Education Department. Of course, with trust and freedom comes responsibility, says the author: the burden of exercising judgment to make campuses safe now falls more heavily than ever upon college officials.
Chronicle of Higher Education. 1255 23rd Street NW Suite 700, Washington, DC 20037. Tel: 800-728-2803; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act 1974