“We are glad to comply with the law,” said Steve Farmer, vice provost for enrollment and undergraduate admissions.
The student-led effort was sparked by The Fountain Hopper, an anonymous Stanford University newsletter that, in January, sent out instructions for requesting admissions files under FERPA.
The 1974 law has two primary objectives — protecting students’ information from being released to third parties without permission and allowing students access to their educational files.
Upon request for admissions files, universities have 45 days to respond, according to FERPA.
Farmer said UNC has seen its first requests ever to view admissions files this year, and the admissions department is still working to establish a procedure for honoring these requests.
Still, access to admissions files will not necessarily reveal a concrete reason for acceptance, he said. The admissions process is too holistic and dependent upon basic “human experience” to provide a single rationale, he said.
When folders are eventually released, Farmer said they will not include teachers’ recommendation letters — one of the primary causes of the admissions department’s research before releasing information. Only students who did not waive the FERPA rights — prominently located on the Common Application — would be permitted to view recommendations.
What would remain, Farmer said, might be a note or two about an application and students’ essays and transcripts.