Students don’t have to worry about the University releasing their grades or academic behavior records to the public without their permission.
But the same federal law that protects that information has been broadened and abused by universities to withhold public records — records that if released, could help bring clarity and transparency to government processes.
And UNC is no exception.
In the midst of an investigation into the football team, the University is hurt each time information is revealed that shows a lack of oversight. In response, UNC should operate as openly as possible.
Just more than two weeks ago, a Daily Tar Heel reporter was denied access to a list of student tutors on grounds that a student’s employment was a private educational record.
When asked why the record was private and educational, Regina Stabile, the University’s director of institutional records and report compliance, diverted the question.
“You’d have to ask FERPA to qualify that,” she said.
Well, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act is not a person — it is a 1974 law that says federal funds can be withheld from any public school that releases a student’s personal educational record.
That’s all it was meant to protect.