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Student Records Policy

Student Records Policy

1. Pursuant to section 438 of the General Education Provisions Act and its implementing regulations, with the exceptions noted in item 2 below, current or former students in attendance* at Oberlin College have the right to review and inspect their education records relating to their attendance as a student. An “education record” is any record, file, document, or other material that contains information directly related to a student and that is maintained by the college.

* A student is considered to be “in attendance” on the first day the student attends classes at Oberlin College for credit. No student applying for admission to the College of Arts and Sciences and the Conservatory of Music, nor a student transferring from one division to the other, may see his/her admission file until he/she is formally admitted to that particular division of the college (e.g., the College of Arts and Sciences or the Conservatory of Music).

2. The right to review and inspect education records does not extend to the following categories of records:

a. Financial records, including any information in those records pertaining to the student’s parents.

b. Records that are maintained in the sole possession of the maker, are used only as a personal memory aid, and are not accessible or revealed to any other person except as a temporary substitute for the maker of the record.

c. Records made or maintained by a physician, psychiatrist, psychologist, or other recognized professional or paraprofessional acting in his or her professional capacity or assisting in a paraprofessional capacity that are made, maintained or used only in connection with the treatment of the student, and disclosed only to individuals providing treatment to the student. However, the student may have these records reviewed by a physician or other appropriate healthcare professional of the student’s choice. NOTE: Medical records are also available for review pursuant to federal law. (Call 440-775-8180 to learn more about procedures for obtaining medical records from the Student Health Center.)

d. Records that only contain information about an individual after he or she is no longer a student in attendance at the college (e.g., alumni records) and are not directly related to the individual’s attendance as a student.

e. Confidential letters and statements of recommendation that were placed on file before January 1, 1975, as long as the statements are used only for the purposes for which they were specifically intended.

f. Confidential letters and statements of recommendation that were placed on file after January 1, 1975 in which the student has waived his or her right to inspect and review those letters and statements pursuant to the guidelines delineated in Part 6 below, and that relate to the student’s admission to an education institution, an application for employment, or receipt of an honor or honorary recognition.

g. Records created and maintained by the Office of Safety and Security.

h. Records relating exclusively to student employees of the College in their capacity as employees.

i. Grades on peer-graded papers before they are collected and recorded by a teacher.

3. Offices keeping records that may be reviewed by the student include but are not limited to: Career Services, Communications, the Conservatory, Financial Aid, the Registrar, the Dean of Students, Residential Education and Dining Services, and Student Academic Services.

4. In order to inspect a student’s education records, the student must submit a signed and dated written request addressed to the supervisor of the office in which the records are maintained on a form prescribed by the college. The request form must describe the records sought and the purpose for which access is being requested. The responsible college official will make arrangements within a reasonable period, but not more than 45 days from the date of receipt of the written request, for the student to review the records at an appropriate office at Oberlin. If the records are not maintained by the college official to whom the request was submitted, that official shall advise the student of the correct official to whom the request should be addressed.

a. Oberlin will not destroy education records if it has received a proper request to inspect the records from a student, until such time as the student has had an opportunity to access the records.

b. Pursuant to federal law, only those education records directly related to the student will be made available for review. To the extent that a student’s education record contains references to another student, all personal identifiers pertaining to the other student will be redacted from the record before the requesting student is provided with access to the record, unless the information cannot be so redacted without destroying its meaning.

5. Federal law generally does not require the college to provide copies of education records to students (or authorized third parties as explained in part 7 below), and the college reserves the right to refuse to provide copies of education records to students or authorized third parties in its sole discretion. It is the policy of the college not to release copies of disciplinary records, Student Honor Code records and proceedings, Sexual Misconduct Policy and Procedural Guidelines records and proceedings, Discrimination and Harassment Policy records and proceedings, judicial case files, or investigative files to third parties. Individuals may contact the Office of the Dean of Students to make arrangements for a file investigation. In exigent circumstances that effectively prevent students from exercising their right to inspect and review their education records, the college may elect at its option to provide copies of the records to students, or, alternatively, to make the records available to students for their inspection in a supervised setting at a location remote from Oberlin. In cases in which the college determines that copies of a student record may be provided, the copies will be made at the student’s expense. A fee schedule, covering administrative costs, will be available in the office where student records are kept.

6. Students may waive their right of access to confidential letters and confidential statements of recommendation regarding admission to an education institution, for applications for employment, and for receipt of an honor or honorary recognition that are placed in the student’s education records after January 1, 1975 by completing a signed written statement which describes the letters or statements with reasonable particularity and which contains the following language:

“I hereby waive my right of access to this document now or at any time in the future. I do so with the full understanding that a waiver may not be required as a condition for admission, or receipt of financial aid or any other service or benefits of the institution.” (Signature must follow).

The college will provide to a student a list of the names of individuals who provided letters, statements, and recommendations upon written request, and the letters and recommendations will be used only for the purpose for which they were intended.

7. Under federal law, the college retains the discretion not to disclose education records to third parties. No such disclosure will be made in any event without the prior written consent of the student, which must be made on a form prescribed by the college. Such written consent must specify the records that may be disclosed, the purpose of the disclosure, and the party or parties to whom the disclosure may be made. Upon receipt of a properly completed request, the responsible college official will make arrangements within a reasonable time, but not more than 45 days from the date of receipt of the written request, for the third party to review the records at an appropriate office at Oberlin. If the records are not maintained by the college official to whom the request was submitted, that official shall advise the student of the correct official to whom the request should be addressed.

a. The student has the right to access a copy of any records disclosed to a third party pursuant to the student’s consent.

b. In certain cases, the college may permit a third party to obtain copies of records for which a student has supplied a duly executed consent for disclosure. However, under federal law, the college is under no obligation to provide copies of education records to third parties, and the college reserves the right to refuse to provide copies of education records to third parties in its sole discretion. It is the policy of the college not to release copies of disciplinary records, Student Honor Code records and proceedings, Sexual Misconduct Policy and Procedural Guidelines records and proceedings, Discrimination and Harassment Policy records and proceedings, judicial case files, or investigative files to third parties. Individuals may contact the Office of the Dean of Students to make arrangements for a file investigation.

c. Third parties to whom education records are disclosed pursuant to a duly executed consent are not permitted to redisclose the information contained in the record without the prior consent of the student, and the information may only be used for the purpose for which the disclosure was made.

8. The college may disclose education records to third parties without consent of the student in the following instances:

a. To a school official who has a legitimate educational interest. A school official has a legitimate education interest if the official needs to review an education record in order to fulfill his or her professional duties for the college. School officials who occasionally have reason to examine records generally include without limitation: employees in the following offices: Office of the Dean of the Conservatory, Office of the Registrar, Office of Residential Education and Dining Services, Office of the Dean of Students, the Counseling Center, Financial Aid, Student Academic Services, Office of the Dean of Studies, and Safety and Security; the student’s faculty advisor; individual faculty members who have been asked to write a recommendation for the student; healthcare personnel; and members of the Board of Trustees of the College. In addition, contractors, consultants, volunteers, or other individuals with whom the college has outsourced college services or functions and over whom the College maintains direct control may also be considered school officials, and include the college’s attorneys, auditors and consultants, as well as students serving in an official capacity on behalf of the college, such as on a Community or Judicial Board, the Student Honor Committee, designated members of the Oberlin Student Cooperative Association (OSCA) when serving in the role of officer of OSCA, or others who are assisting in the performance of college services or functions that would otherwise be performed by a college employee.

b. Disclosures in compliance with a lawful subpoena or judicial order.

c. Disclosures in connection with a student’s application for or receipt of financial aid.

d. Disclosures to state authorities exempted from the prior consent requirements of federal law.

e. Disclosures to accrediting organizations.

f. Disclosures to the parent(s) of a ‘dependent’ student, as defined by the Internal Revenue Code.

g. Disclosures to appropriate persons to protect the health or safety of a student or other persons in an emergency situation.

h. Disclosures to the parent(s) of a student permitted by law in a case where a student who is under 21 years of age has been found responsible for committing a violation of law or college policy pertaining to the use or possession of drugs or alcohol or a controlled substance.

i. Disclosures permitted or required by law in cases where a student is found responsible for a violation of the rules and regulations pertaining to an act of sexual or physical assault or violence or a non-forcible sexual offense.

j. Disclosures to a victim of an alleged perpetrator of a crime of violence or a non-forcible sex offense.

k. Disclosures to authorized federal officials who have need to audit and evaluate federally supported programs.

l. Disclosures for public directory information, that is, information that the college has the policy of announcing publicly. “Directory Information” includes the student’s name, address, telephone listing, major field of study, participation in recognized activities and sports that officially represent the college, weight and height of members of athletic teams, dates of attendance, degrees and awards received, and the most recent previous educational agency or institution attended by the student.

Any student may refuse to have directory information released if he/she notifies the registrar in writing on or before the end of the second week of his/her first semester in residence during a given academic year or on or before the end of the second week following a mid-year change of college address.

m. Disclosures to officials of other institutions in which a student seeks or intends to enroll, provided the institution gives the student an opportunity to request a copy of such record and an opportunity for a hearing to challenge the record.

n. Disclosures to organizations conducting studies for or on behalf of education institutions to develop, validate, or administer predictive tests, administer student aid programs, or improve instruction.

9. If a student believes that the information in an education record is inaccurate, misleading, or in violation of the privacy rights of the student, he/she may request that the college amend the record by submitting a request in writing to the college official responsible for providing the student with access to the record.

a. If the college declines to accept the amendment, the student may request a hearing to challenge the contents of the student’s education records on the grounds that it is inaccurate, misleading, or in violation of the privacy rights of the student. A committee consisting of members who shall not have a direct interest in the outcome of the hearing – a departmental chair, a faculty member, and an administrator (normally the Dean of Students) – shall conduct the hearing. During the academic year, when students are in residence, the Dean of Students will select one student to be added to the membership of this committee. Additional information regarding the hearing procedures will be provided to the student when notified of the right to a hearing.

b. If as a result of the hearing, the committee agrees with the student’s contentions, the record will be amended accordingly.

c. If the committee disagrees with the student’s contentions, the student will be afforded the option of placing a written statement in the record commenting on the contested information or stating why the student disagrees with the decision of the college. Such statement will be retained with the record for as long as the record is maintained, and will be disclosed whenever the college discloses the portion of the record to which the statement relates.

10. Effective September 4, 2007, the Office of Career Services has discontinued the credential mailing service and has implemented a partnership with Interfolio to maintain reference and credential files for current students and alumni. This service will replace the former method of maintaining paper-based files through the Reference Service/Student Academic Services. Students and Alumni choosing to use the Interfolio service will agree to the terms outlined in the Interfolio Service Agreement.

11. All Oberlin College offices that maintain education records shall keep a log of instances in which a student’s records are disclosed pursuant to a request by persons who are not otherwise authorized to have access to the records. The access log shall include the following: date the education record was examined; name and title of the reviewer; and the legitimate education purpose of the disclosure. The access log shall be available for inspection by the student.

12. A student has the right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by the college to comply with Federal law pertaining to the maintenance of education records. The name and address of the office responsible for education record issues is:

Family Policy Compliance Office
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20202-5901