Arizona Daily Wildcat
October 10, 1997


The University of Arizona needs a FERPA lesson.

FERPA - the Federal Educational Rights Protection Act „ is a federal law that prohibits colleges and universities from giving out personally identifiable information regarding a studentÍs educational records.

Last week the Kansas City Star printed detailed information from Miles Simon's confidential transcripts. Someone with access to student records told the Star's Mike McGraw all he ever wanted to know about Simon's academic woes.

No doubt, Simon isn't happy about his grades being printed in newspapers across the country. But this is no fault of the media.

The University, and only the university, is responsible for safeguarding personally identifiable information on a student's educational record.

But in light of recent events, it seems that the UA is confused over what constitutes personally identifiable information.

Two weeks ago, after two rapes involving UA students were reported to local police, the dean of students office could not confirm that it was investigating the incidents. Dean of Students Melissa Vito claimed last week she would be violating FERPA by a cknowledging her office is investigating a rape.

According to UA attorney Mike Proctor, acknowledgment of a rape could be personally identifiable information.

And as Miles Simon found out last week, the university is very careful when it comes to personally identifiable information.

It seems ironic that a student's grades can slip through the cracks while the university turns its nose in the air and refuses to release general information essential to the personal safety of all students.

If the university is going to leak confidential information to the press, that information should at least have some value to the public.

Students don't need to know Simon's grades. Students need to know how many rapes have been reported on campus this semester.

The key words in determining a violation of FERPA are personally identifiable. For the record this is personally identifiable information:

  • Miles Simon, a UA basketball player, has a 2.02 GPA.

This is not personally identifiable information:

  • A rape occurred involving UA students.

Unfortunately, the university doesn't seem to see the difference.

When it comes to FERPA, the UA should keep it simple. FERPA was designed to protect academic records.

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