Access to and Privacy of Records
This statement is issued by Smith College in accordance with the United States Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) as amended. The purpose of the act is to give students and former students access to their official records at the college, to provide an opportunity to correct inaccurate or misleading statements and to ensure that records are not released to unauthorized persons without the consent of the student.
According to the terms of the act, access may be provided to administrative officers and members of the faculty who have legitimate interest, to certain specified agents of the government for the purposes of enforcement and study, to military personnel for recruitment purposes, and to other educational agents and institutions in connection with applications for admission and requests for financial aid. All authorized persons outside the college who request access will be required to file a written, signed statement of purpose; this statement will be kept on file and will be made available for inspection only to the student upon request.
Transcripts of or information concerning student records will be released to other persons outside the college only with the written consent of the student or upon subpoena, in which case the student will be notified. The act stipulates that the student's written consent indicate which records are to be released, the reasons for such release and to whom the copies are to be released. A copy of the material to be released may be requested by the student.
Certain information, designated as "directory information," may be released without consent.
At Smith College, this information includes the following: name, home address (while in college), college address and telephone, parents' names and addresses, e-mail address, photos and digital images, dates of attendance, majors/minors, degrees and awards, extracurricular activities (if known) and most recent previously attended institution (i.e., preparatory school or college). A student or former student who is unwilling to have this information given to inquirers without consent should notify the Office of the Registrar in writing. In the case of former students, the college reserves the right to verify degrees. Students may authorize the release of information from their education records to their parents by completing the appropriate form at the registrar's office.
Students' official records include records, files, documents and other materials containing information directly related to a student that are maintained by the college. They do not include notes kept by instructors, advisers or deans for their own use and available to them only; such notes are maintained by individual administrators and are destroyed when no longer relevant or useful.
Records maintained by the Health Services to provide treatment to the student are not available to anyone other than the persons providing the treatment, but such records can be reviewed by a physician or other appropriate professional with the written consent of the student.
Records may be released in certain cases of health or safety emergency. They may be sent to parents of a dependent student of such parents as defined in section 152 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986. It is the policy of the college to notify both the student and her parents in writing of probationary status, dismissal and certain academic warnings.
In communications with parents concerning other matters, it is normally college policy to respect the privacy of the student and not to disclose information from student education records without the prior consent of the student. At the request of the student, such information will be provided to parents and guardians.
Confidential letters and statements of recommendation placed in the record prior to January 1, 1975, are not accessible to students. Students may waive their right of access to statements written after that date provided such waiver is not required by the institution and the statements are used for no purpose other than that for which they were written.
Student records at Smith are described in the academic life section of the student handbook. Procedures for students who wish to consult their records are as follows:
- Obtain an "access request" form at the Office of the Registrar. Complete the form and give it to one of the members of the registrar's staff. The record will be available for inspection in the class deans' office one week after the date of the request.
- Requests to see records in the Career Development Office should be made to that office.
- Students who have questions about their medical records and the use of them are referred directly to the Health Services.
Questions concerning the files or requests for correction should be made in writing and left with the registrar or the director of the Career Development Office to be brought to the attention of the official in charge of the particular record. If the official in charge is not able or willing to make the correction requested, the case shall be brought to the registrar, the dean of the college and the president.