Virginia law suppresses university directories for student privacy The Commonwealth Times

A screenshot of the MyVCU portal, showing the widget where students can indicate if they want to share their contact information.

Nia Tariq, News editor

A screenshot of the MyVCU portal, showing the widget where students can indicate if they want to share their contact information.

The VCU Directory, also known as the “Phone Book”, is no longer active – therefore, the days of typing the beginning of a coworker’s VCU email address into Gmail and the result are gone. appears easily.

Approved on April 9 and entered into force on July 1, a law passed by the General Assembly prohibits universities from disclosing personal information about students without written consent.

“Students will no longer be able to find another student’s contact information through or the people search on the VCU website,” said a Virginia House Bill 1 web page provided by the Marshal’s Office. “University’s online applications, such as Blackboard, email, room reservation systems and the Service Desk, will no longer allow non-employees to look up student eIDs and email addresses. , including the auto-complete feature of email addresses currently used in many systems. “

As amended, HB1 prohibits the public disclosure of student information that was previously available in yearbooks. The list of private information includes the names of the students; sex; address; phone number; Date and place of birth; major field of study; participation in officially recognized sports and activities; the dates of attendance and the diplomas and awards received, according to HB1.

“VCU is committed to following all Virginia and federal laws,” said Bernard Hamm, university registrar and director of the Office of Records and Registration.

Affecting all students from undergraduate to professional, HB1’s intention to secure personal information can make the process of communicating students with each other outside of class more difficult.

There is a dissenting opinion among some students, like senior Jordan Glisan, that emails should be allowed to be shared, but other personal information like social media and phone numbers should be kept safe. .

“With over 30,000 students at VCU, it becomes very difficult to search for students by email,” said Glisan, a senator from the National Society of Black Engineers at VCU and chairman of the VCU chapter of the Phi Beta Sigma fraternity, who relies on email to send important organizational information to peers.

Even professors and university staff, unless with written consent, are not legally allowed to share student contact information with colleagues or other students.

“I know professors and teachers don’t like it,” Glisan said. “In one of my first classes this semester, my teacher made it clear to us to go into myVCU and allow the university to share contact information in order to facilitate classroom communications.”

Professors and staff are still searchable in the directory, found at “Eligible students” – or those who are at least 18 years of age or emancipated minors – can consent in writing to the university making their information accessible.

There is a shortcut for students who want to make their information public. Consent can be provided by simply logging into myVCU, clicking on the “Student” tab at the top of the page, and flipping the switch in the upper left corner.

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