What is Virginia House Bill 1?
Effective July 1, Virginia House Bill 1 (HB1), Code of Virginia section 23.1-405(C), prohibits a university from disclosing a student’s email address, physical address or telephone number under the exception in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) for directory information or the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) unless the student has affirmatively consented in writing to the disclosure.
The bill includes all students regardless of academic program levels: undergraduate, graduate, certificates, non-degree and continuing education. Faculty and staff will continue to have access to students enrolled in their courses and participating in UMW activities. Student contact information, including student e-mail addresses, will not be included in any publicly accessible directory or database.
What is the procedure to obtain student consent?
All students will be required to opt-in through the student information system. Students can alter their consent at any point by logging into the portal.
What if I am a student employee, graduate assistant or a student in any capacity paid by the university, will my email address be listed on the website?
UMW will continue to list contact information of its employees, where necessary, in the same manner that such information is currently shared (such as on departmental websites or contact directories) Such contact information is limited to university-affiliated information, such as an employee’s office phone extension, office address, or UMW e-mail address. UMW does not disclose personal contact information of its employees in publicly-accessible directories. In addition, students who are employees of UMW only due to their student status (such as graduate
assistants, RAs, work-study students) will not have their contact information included in any publicly-accessible context, or disclosed in response to any FOIA request, without written consent.
How does this legislation impact me as a student?
HB1 prohibits a university from disclosing a student’s email address, physical address or telephone number under the exception in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) for directory information or the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) unless the student has affirmatively consented in writing to the disclosure. Generally, this restriction also applies to the university’s disclosure of one student’s information to another student.
As such, by default, UMW will redact student names and email addresses from any publicly accessible directory or database. In addition, unless UMW receives a student’s affirmative opt-in to share contact information for internal purposes, other UMW students will be unable to search for your e-mail address or other contact information.
If you do not provide consent to share your contact information for internal purposes, your participation in UMW activities (courses, clubs, events, and other functions routine to the UMW experience) may be impacted, as UMW will not be able to facilitate contact between you and other students by sharing your e-mail address or other contact information. Please note that this law only pertains to disclosure of contact information by UMW, and not by other students or individuals to whom you provide your contact information.
How do I obtain another student’s contact information?
Per the bill, UMW is prohibited from disclosing a student’s contact information to another student unless that student has consented to the disclosure. Without that consent, UMW may not provide you with another student’s contact information, including an UMW-issued e-mail address. In situations where UMW has not received consent from one of your classmates, you may ask the classmate for their contact information directly.
As a student, am I able to send group emails to other students?
The law restricts disclosure by UMW but does not restrict any disclosure by students. For example, if a student organization collects and distributes membership rosters, that disclosure is not restricted by this law. However, UMW may no longer provide the contact information for these group rosters without consent of all group participants.
What if I have further questions?
How does this legislation impact me as a faculty member?
UMW is working to ensure that faculty and staff who need access to student contact information can access that information through available electronic resources, such as Canvas and Banner SSB. However, any faculty or staff member who accesses student contact information must refrain from disclosing a student’s email address, phone number or address to any individual who is not a university employee or other school official under the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) unless the individual student has provided affirmative written consent for the disclosure. Importantly, a faculty member may not disclose one student’s contact information to another student without required consent. For example, to avoid disclosing student email addresses when communicating with multiple students, faculty may blind copy students or use a listserv or other tool to protect individual student email addresses from disclosure.
UMW will redact student names and email addresses from the student directory; this will remove the ability for anyone to search for a student’s assigned email address from the Internet.
As a faculty member, despite the removal of student email information from publicly accessible websites, you will retain access to class roster information in Canvas and Banner SSB. Additionally, faculty and staff will have the ability to look for student email addresses in your email system by simply typing in the student’s name in the recipient or blind copy field. Finally, UMW Enterprise Application Services is working to provide a searchable student directory for faculty and staff members. Currently, we are looking at making this searchable student directory available by the beginning of the Fall 2018 term.
What if a student grants approval to disclose their email address, phone number or permanent address via an email message?
An email may satisfy the required consent if it’s sent from the students UMW email to an UMW employee email. The email must provide clear consent to disclose the email address, phone number and/or permanent address, and the purpose for which the consent is granted. (For example, “Sure, you can use my e-mail address” is not specific. “You can let other students see my e-mail address in group e-mails,” or other more specific consent, is better). Upon receipt of the email consent, the department should reply to the student and acknowledge the given consent, provide the student with contact information if they decide to withdraw the consent, correct/modify their information, or review the information disclosed. The department must keep a permanent copy; such as a saved pdf copy of the consent message until the disclosed information is removed.
What if I have student workers who access students email as part of their jobs? Should their access be removed?
No, you do not need to remove their access. If a student worker is expected to access this information as a part of their job duties, then these student workers are UMW employees and university officials with the need to know this information. While these student workers and other employees who handle this information must be made aware that they may not disclose this information without supervisory authorization and written consent from the affected students, no additional action is needed for their continued access to this information. It is advisable to remind student workers who access this information for their UMW employment that they may not access or use it for any purpose other than as necessary for their assigned job duties.
Will faculty have access to student email addresses if students are not enrolled in one of their courses?
Faculty members are allowed to access student contact information if they need that information to perform their assigned job duties. UMW Enterprise Application Services is working to provide a searchable student directory for faculty and staff members. Currently, we are looking at making this searchable student directory available by the beginning of the Fall 2018 term. Faculty members with an @umw.edu email address can also look up student contact directly from their email by typing in the student’s name.
Am I able to send group emails to students?
Yes, group email to multiple students are still allowed, but faculty/staff cannot disclose a student’s email address to another student without affirmative consent. Therefore, in order to email a group of students, you should add the students’ email addresses in the bcc field, or email the students through a listserv, unless you have verified that all student e-mail recipients have consented to disclosure of their contact information.
What if I have further questions?