Jan 222003
Authors: Christopher J. Ortiz

Students will no longer be able to check their grades outside classrooms or professors’ offices because of a new ruling on student privacy laws.

CSU professors and faculty received an email about a new policy in early December advising them to discontinue providing grades by posting strips that display any portion of a student’s personal identification number.

CSU’s Legal Council recommended the policy after a ruling from the Department of Education’s Family Policy Compliance Office. The FPCO ruled posting grades violated the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, FERPA. The act was enacted to protect the privacy of student educational records and applies to all schools that receive government funding.

“Generally, we support what we can do to protect student’s private information,” said William Haid, executive director for Enrollment Services. “The concern expressed by students was that their social security numbers were accessible.”

Professors and faculty are recommended to post students’ grades on CSU’s secure WebCT and Ramweb websites. Legal council also advised professors and faculty not to individually email students their grades because it felt email addresses are not secure enough to disclose personal information.

CSU’s legal council also advised against alternative posting schemes.

Before the ruling, professors typically posted grades by using the last four digits of a student’s school identification number, which in most cases is the student’s social security number.

“I am opposed to the new policy because I don’t see it as a big problem,” said Kayla Wagner, a sophomore in marketing and management. “It makes it more difficult to get final grades.”

Wagner said she did not see a problem posting a portion of a student’s identification number because the entire number was not posted.

John Triplett, a computer science sophomore, did not have a problem with going to the CSU website to check grades.

“I like it because no one else can log on to your WebCT unless you give them your information,” Triplett said.

Sociology professor Joon Kim said he did not have any problems with the new policy but he could see it as a problem for professors who teach large lecture classes.

Haid said if CSU did not comply with the privacy act, it could eventually lose its federal aid.

In order to be in compliance with FERBA, the university will also no longer print a student’s social security or student identification number on student ID cards.

“(Posting grades) has been scrutinized in the past,” Haid said. “We hope what we are doing is providing privacy to student’s information.”

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