UA can now inform parents of alcohol, drug violations
The UA Dean of Students Office this year will begin a policy of notifying parents in cases of underage student alcohol or drug violations on campus as a result of recent federal legislation.
In October, Congress passed the Higher Education Amendment to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974.
Veda Hunn, the University of Arizona's assistant dean of students, said the amendment allows the university to release information to parents regarding underage alcohol and drug violations. In the past, FERPA did not permit the release of such information.
"The purpose of this is seeking another avenue for students to make better decisions," Hunn said.
The Dean of Students policy, which starts this school year, will release to parents the name of the student, the violation committed and any sanctions imposed.
Hunn said the policy began this year rather than at the beginning of last semester to allow enough time to inform students of the change.
The new legislation is the result of parents lobbying Congress for more information regarding their children, Hunn said.
Hunn said she has already notified the parents of one student for an alcohol violation, and expects to do so in about 80 percent of the cases her office deals with. The office will send out about 300 notices to parents during the school year, she estimated.
Hunn said the policy is only there to assist students in making better decisions, not to get them in more trouble.
"If a student has a very open and honest communication with their parents, my sending a letter won't come as a surprise," she said.
The Dean of Students Office has distributed the information throughout campus in high traffic and high exposure areas such as residence halls, greek houses, the Memorial Student Union and at campus functions and activities.
For both alcohol and drug violations on campus, the Dean of Students diversion program usually follows a disciplinary procedure of community service, an educational program and probation.
The only addition to that procedure now is the notification of parents after a student has been found responsible for a violation.
UA attorney Mike Proctor said the new legislation was an attempt by Congress to find a way to have parents more involved, and the intent was to loosen up FERPA.
"A lot of it was a response on the part of Congress to address a lot of the issues on campuses regarding alcohol," he said.
Proctor said the law was structured to give universities some flexibility in notifying parents.
"Most schools are finding a way to disclose some of the information," he said. "There is a lot of variety around the nation."
Proctor added that he thought the UA policy was reasonable.