Requesting Confidential Student Contact Information

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act requires the university to take special care of the personally identifiable student information that it maintains.  Although there is some discretion in releasing student contact information such as e-mail or street address, the university maintains a high level of confidentiality concerning these records.  For students with privacy holds, no information is made available.

The university is experiencing a high volume of requests for contact information in order to survey students.  As a result, there is a concern about over-surveying our students and the likely drop in response rates for high priority university surveys.  In addition, contact with students through email has increased substantially, increasing the likelihood that students will ignore important communication.

Generally, the university will provide only certain types of contact information, such as email or street address, allowing more sensitive information to be reported by students within a survey.  On a case-by-case basis, the Confidential Student Contact Information (CSCI) committee may release additional information for survey purposes, but it will be restricted to “Directory Information” as described in the catalog and the  Office of the University Registrar’s page on Student Privacy.

Those desiring contact information (emails, addresses) must submit their requests well in advance.  Requests for confidential student information must be made before the beginning of the semester in which the survey is planned. Note that IRB approval is required before initiating this request.  Requests must come from faculty or staff; student requests will not be considered.

All requests should keep in mind the following good survey research practices.  (A recommended resource is Mail and Internet Surveys by Don Dillman.)

    1. Questions should be clear and unambiguous.
    2. The survey should not be unduly long.
    3. The survey should not use leading questions.
    4. The solicitation to students should be clear as to purpose and how the information will be used.
    5. Questions dealing with personal information, such as age, race, gender and sexual orientation, and questions that might put an individual at risk, such as participation in an illegal activity, should have a compelling purpose for being asked.
    6. A clear plan for guaranteeing anonymity or confidentiality must be made, including dissolution and non re-use of the contact information.  If individual information is to be used for such things as follow-up interviews, students must give explicit permission to do so.
    7. Follow-up reminders to complete the survey should not include those students who have already completed the survey.

Please answer all questions on the Request for Confidential Student Contact Information form.

Questions?  Contact Karen Manley, Assessment Support Coordinator, Office of Institutional Assessment, at 703-993-8834.

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