Archive for March, 2009

FERPA, Student Privacy, and Parental Rights

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

FERPA, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, is a federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. It applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education.

“Education records” can cover grades as well as health and behavioral records. Interpretation of the law can differ by institution, but FERPA is increasingly being painted as a law that pits “students’ right to privacy against what some parents deem as their right to know.”

One catalyst for the discussion has been 19-year old Jason Wren’s presumably alcohol-related death. Wren had a disciplinary history with Kansas State University, but his parents had no warning of his behavior until after his death.

Does an individual have less of a right to privacy by default of being a college student? Where does the right to privacy interfere with an institution’s goal to keep its students safe?

– X. Avalos

Academic Freedom at College of DuPage

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

College Freedom has a recent post about a proposed policy change at College of DuPage. Last Fall the college’s Board of Trustees shared a draft of changes that included language taken from David Horowitz’s Academic Bill of Rights. The Faculty Association protested and the Board made some changes.

The Illinois AAUP has responded in detail to the new draft. Some of the remaining concern is over vague terms such as “demeaning behavior” and “ethical image” that are left undefined and thus open to abuse. The policy also grants the campus President the authority limit the place, content, and timing of speakers. Perhaps the most problematic section states “No person shall be required to listen to a speaker or participate in a program that he/she finds objectionable.” This removes faculty from the traditional role of determining curriculum and course content. The Illinois AAUP may overstate their case here and there in the response, but this last item is truly troubling.

– Dan Lee

News from the US Copyright Office

Thursday, March 19th, 2009

Copyright Office Announces Public Hearings on Exemption to Prohibition on Circumvention of Copyright Protection Systems for Access Control Technologies

The Copyright Office will hold public hearings on possible exemptions to the prohibition against circumvention of technological measures that control access to copyrighted works. In accordance with the Copyright Act, as amended by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the Office is conducting its triennial rulemaking proceeding to determine whether there are particular classes of works as to which users are, or are likely to be, adversely affected in their ability to make noninfringing uses if they are prohibited from circumventing such technological measures. The first hearing will take place in Palo Alto, California, on May 1, 2009. Hearings will also be held in Washington, D.C., on May, 6, 7, and 8, 2009. Requests to testify must be received by 6:00 p.m. on April 3, 2009. A form to use in filing a request to testify has been posted on the Copyright Office website. An agenda of the hearings will be! posted on the Copyright Office website after April 3, 2009. (Read further information)

IFC at ACRL Seattle

Thursday, March 19th, 2009

Welcome back from Seattle, everyone! I hope you all had a great conference. I also hope you were able to catch the Intellectual Freedom committee’s presence at the ACRL member table. We provided fliers and posters outlining how librarians protect Intellectual Freedom in academic libraries. They were designed by immediate past co-chair Suzan Parker, and are designed to be shared and posted.  You can download them here and here if you missed them in Seattle.

— X. Avalos