Privacy issues, what Cabrini won’t say

By Melissa Steven
February 17, 2005

Ryan Norris

FERPA prohibits the college from contacting parents without the student’s permission, even if the student is exhibiting self-destructive behavior, according to Tutaleni Asino, an area coordinator. Only with written permission from the student can the parents be contacted.

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law that protects the privacy of student educational records. Dr. Charles McCormick, dean of academic affairs, said, “FERPA transfers the right to review educational records to students who are 18 years old.”

Asino said that every situation is different and could not exactly give a situation in which it was necessary to contact the parents. His main concern was the student and their well being, “If they are in trouble, we will do everything to help,” Asino said.

Some students sign a consent disclosure form, which allows faculty, advisers or administrators to disclose academic information to parents or guardians.

George Stroud, the director of residence life, said, “Student judicial files are not typically shared with anyone without the students written consent. There is an exception though. The college is permitted to inform the parents of those students, who are under the age of 21, that have been found to be responsible for violating the drug or alcohol policy.”

Deborah Maloney, a sophomore history major, said her parents were contacted when pictures were found on the web of her drinking alcohol in the Xavier dorm rooms. Maloney is under the age of 21 and a letter was sent to her parents from Residence Life explaining what had happened, what the punishment was and it included the pictures found on the internet. “We were told that a letter would be sent home to our parents with the photographs when we met with George,” Maloney said.

According to Asino, whenever there is a violation with the alcohol policy, whether the student is under or over the age of 21, some type of judicial hearing is held. That hearing comes in many forms, such as a letter being sent to the student or a meeting being held to discuss the situation.

McCormick said that some students and parents or guardians are unclear about FERPA guidelines and so they do not understand when faculty, advisers or administrators indicate that without written consent, a student’s educational record cannot be shared.

Maloney said that she understood that the school was allowed to contact her parents if someone is under the age of 21 and is found drinking, but she felt that it was unnecessary in her case. “My parents had already seen the pictures,” she said. “They thought the school’s actions were stupid and didn’t see the point in all the fuss. They were just pictures.”

In some cases it does not seem like Residence Life is fair when handling situations with underage drinking and handing out punishments. Some students, like Maloney, think that they are inconsistent and do not punish everyone equally. “We were getting a really harsh punishment just for pictures when other people weren’t getting half of what we got and they were worse things,” she said.

Asino said that their goal is not to punish as many students as they can, but to be of some educational value. He believes that he is fair when dealing with alcohol violations. “I do try to be as consistent as I can, but every human being is flawed,” Asino said.

osted to ther web by Ryan Norris

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Melissa Steven

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