The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 is a federal law which provides each student with the right to inspect educational records maintained about him/her by the university, the right to a hearing to challenge the contents and to make explanation for challenged information. The law also provides that the university will maintain confidentiality of student records except with respect to special cases noted in the legislation.
The Registrar at New Jersey Institute of Technology is responsible for student records. Educational records include transcripts, admission files, and placement records. Students wishing to review their files must make a written request to the Registrar listing the items of interest. Student health records are maintained by the Director of Health Services and may be examined by a professional of the student's choice. Files covered by the Act will be made available within 45 days of the request. Students may have copies made of their records at their own expense at prevailing rates. An exception to the right of inspection include financial aid records and records of institutional, supervisory, and administrative personnel and educational personnel ancillary thereto which are the sole possession of the maker or his/her substitute.
Within the university community, only those members acting in the student's interest, individually or collectively, are allowed to have access to student files. These include personnel in the Registrar, Admissions, Student Services, Bursar's Offices and academic personnel within the limitations of their need to know.
With the exceptions stated in the Act, no one outside the university shall have access to a particular student's educational records without the written consent of the student, except in extraordinary circumstances such as emergencies, by the accrediting agencies carrying out their accrediting function or by certain state and federal officials. A record of access and reasons for granting will be kept by the university and be accessible to the student.
The university at its discretion may provide directory information in accordance with the provisions of the Act to include: the student's name, address, telephone listing, date and place of birth, major field of study, participation in officially recognized activities and sports, weight and height of members of athletic teams, dates of attendance, degrees and awards received, and the most recent previous educational agency or institution attended by the student. Students wanting directory information withheld should notify the Registrar in writing within two weeks of each year's first academic enrollment.
The university will honor requests for nondisclosure for ONLY ONE academic year; therefore, authorization to withhold directory information must be filed annually in the Office of the Registrar.
In case the student disagrees with an entry, s/he should attempt to resolve the question with the Office of the Registrar. Failing this, either the school or the student may request a formal hearing. The hearing, in accordance with the Act's requirements, will be held within thirty days after the request and will be conducted by a school official or other person without a direct interest in the outcome. The student will be given a full and fair opportunity to present relevant evidence, and a written decision will be rendered within 15 working days after the hearing.
Students who believe that the adjudication of their challenges were unfair, or not in keeping with the provisions of the Act may request in writing, assistance from the President of the university. Further, students who believe that their rights have been abridged may file complaints with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act Office (FERPA), Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, Washington D.C. 20201, concerning the alleged failures of New Jersey Institute of Technology to comply with the Act.
Rights And Freedoms Of Students
[Excerpted from the Joint Statement on Rights and Freedoms of Students, AAUP Bulletin, Summer, 1968, pp. 258-261, revised in November, 1992, and printed in Academe, July - August, 1993].
Students in the Classroom
Should be free to take reasoned exception to the data or views offered in any course of study and to reserve judgment about matters of opinion.
Should have protection through orderly procedures against prejudiced or capricious academic evaluation.
Should be able to express their views, beliefs, and political associations which professors should consider confidential.
Transcripts of academic records should contain only information about academic status.
Information from disciplinary files should not be available to unauthorized persons on campus or to any person off campus without the consent of the student involved.
No records should be kept which reflect the political activities or beliefs of students.
Provisions should be made for periodic routine destruction of non-current disciplinary records.
Administrative staff and faculty members should respect confidential information about students that they acquire in the course of their work
Students should be free to organize and join associations to promote common interests.
Campus advisers may advise organizations in the exercise of responsibility, but they should not have the authority to control the policy of such organizations.
Campus organizations should be open to all students without respect to race, creed, gender, age, handicap, or national origin.
Students and student organizations should be free to examine and discuss all questions of interest to them and to express opinions publicly and privately.
Students should be allowed to invite and to hear any person of their own choosing.
As constituents of the academic community, students should be free, individually and collectively, to express their views on issues of university policy and on matters of general interest to the student body.
As safeguards for the editorial freedom of student publications, the following provisions are necessary:
The student press should be free of censorship and advance approval of copy, and its editors and managers should be free to develop their own editorial policies and news coverage.
Editors and managers of student publications should be protected from arbitrary suspension and removal because of student, faculty, and administrative or public disapproval of editorial policy or content.
All university published and financed student publications should explicitly state on the editorial page that the opinions there expressed are not necessarily those of the college, university, or student body.
Off-Campus Freedom of Students
Activities of students may, upon occasion, result in a violation of laws. In such cases, university officials should be prepared to apprise students of sources of legal counsel and may offer other assistance.
Procedural Standards in Disciplinary Proceedings
The administration of discipline should guarantee procedural fairness to an accused student. In all situations, procedural fair play requires that a student charged with misconduct be informed of the nature of the charges and be given a fair opportunity to refute them, that the institution not be arbitrary in its actions, and that there be provision for appeal of a decision.
For further details concerning Joint Statement on Rights and Freedoms of Students, consult the Dean of Student Services Office.