WVU is now legally permitted to notify a student’s parents or guardian if the University finds a student responsible for an alcohol or drug violation and is under 21 years old.
The University will begin implementing this policy beginning this semester and is protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
On WVU’s Student Conduct website, the office writes that FERPA usually restricts the University from notifying parents of conduct violations without authorization, but “West Virginia University may, but is not required to, notify parents/guardians of students under the age of 21 who are found responsible for violations of the University’s alcohol and/or drug policies,” the office writes.
Interim director for Student Conduct Carrie Showalter said WVU began implementing this policy to keep parents informed and have education between them and their students.
“This is an exception to FERPA, and so we believe that in a case like this it can be beneficial to students to be able to have their parents involved and have their parents kind of partner with us to provide help when needed or at least provide education,” Showalter said.
Showalter said incidents will be looked at on a case-by-case basis and that Student Conduct will be looking for a pattern of bad behavior from a student, which will determine if Student Conduct discloses violations to parents.
“[If] there’s a first time and it’s somebody, they come to campus and they have to be taken by ambulance and by EMS and have medical intervention, we would look at that differently than we would look at somebody who just had an open container on High Street,” she said.
Student Conduct will only be able to inform parents of drug or alcohol violations under this policy. Parents will not be able to see if a student is found responsible for additional charges.
“Now, we would send the outcome letter to the parents partially because sometimes students are charged with multiple things, and the only information we can disclose is drug or alcohol,” Showalter said. “So, if a student has another charge we legally can’t disclose that, but really what it would do is just send a letter to the parents and put them on notice that their student has been found responsible for a drug or alcohol charge.”
An outcome letter lists what violations, drug or alcohol-related or not, a student is found responsible for. Parents would not be able to see non-drug or alochol-related charges on the letter.
Students will also be told in a meeting with Student Conduct if the office will soon contact their parents.
“Our intention is to be very up front about that with students,” Showalter said.
What do the new FERPA regulations mean for students?
- If you are found responsible by the Office of Student Conduct or the Office of Residence Life for an alcohol or drug violation, your parents may recieve notification from the university of the violation you recieved.
When does this go into effect?
- This went into effect at the start of the Fall 2018 Semester
Do I need to complete any paperwork?
- You will not need to complete any paperwork to allow the university to make this notification. Federal law allows the university to disclose this information.
Who should I contact if I have additional questions?
- Contact the Office of Student Conduct at email@example.com or 304-293-8111
Why is the University moving in this direction?
- This policy change is intended as an educational strategy, to enable parents/guardians to partner with appropriate University representatives to reduce the risk of students developing behavioral patterns that place their health and well-being at risk.