Military Recuiters have access to student information

Sorting through the mail that has been piling up on the counter, you come across a letter addressed to you. No, it’s not the one you have been waiting for with that promised $20. Instead, it’s a recruitment notice wanting YOU for the U.S. Army. The military may have acquired access to your address through UVM. According to the AACRAO FERPA Guide for 2006, a reference guide for registrars’ offices regarding the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, the University is required to disclose information deemed as “student recruitment information” under the Solomon Amendment. The amendment to FERPA was enacted in 1995 and requires colleges and universities to allow ROTC access to the campus and give military recruiters the same access that other recruiters and employers have for students 17-years-old and up. The amendment also gives military recruiters access to student recruiting information for students enrolled with at least one credit hour. According to the 2006 Registrar’s Guide, student recruiting information is deemed as the following by the Solomon Amendment: name, address (local and/or permanent and e-mail), phone numbers (local and/or permanent), date of birth, place of birth, class level, academic major, degrees received and most recent education institution attended. This is different from the University’s directory information that includes the names, addresses and phone numbers of UVM student’s, staff, and faculty, according to UVM enrollment policies. According to UVM registrar Keith Williams, the University’s policy is to not release directory information in general. This includes not giving information to prospective employers. In regard to the student recruiting information, the UVM registrar’s office will provide that information when it is requested by a department of the military, but only the student’s name and address are disclosed, Williams said. As far as Williams is aware, the University has never denied this information to military recruiters. Non-compliance with the Solomon Amendment by universities, or even an entity of a university, can result in the loss of government funding from the following agencies: Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, National Nuclear Security Administration, Department of Transportation, Department of Labor, Department of Health and Human Services and the Central Intelligence Agency, according to the Registrar’s Guide. There are exceptions to the amendment. According to the Registrar’s Guide, an institution may be exempt from the policy if it is considered passive due to historic religious tradition, if it certifies that it does not collect the required information or if it “certifies that each student concerned has formally requested the school to withhold ‘directory information’ under FERPA to third parties”. However, sources from the Family Policy Compliance Office, a U.S. government agency, indicate that even if a university discloses student recruitment information, after a student requests non-disclosure of all directory information to all third parties, the school is not in violation of FERPA. The amendment was challenged by the Forum for Academic and Institutional Rights (FAIR), created by faculty from an assortment of law schools, but it was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in March of 2006. The grounds for the case were claims of compelled speech, expressive conduct and freedom of association, which FAIR said violated the First Amendment. This was argued on the grounds that law schools have an anti-discrimination policy that includes sexual orientation and is conflicting with the military’s “don’t ask don’t tell” policy. According to the policy, a service member may be investigated and discharged if they make a statement that they are lesbian, gay or bisexual; engage in sexual relations with a member of the same sex; or marry, or attempt to marry, someone of the same sex. UVM has a similar policy to those of the law schools represented by FAIR. According to the non-discrimination policy stated on the LBTQA Services Web site, UVM policy includes and protects sexual orientation. However, the Supreme Court upheld the Solomon Amendment on the grounds that it is under Congress’s “broad and sweeping” power to “raise and support armies.” According to the Supreme Court ruling, the policy is not in violation with the First Amendment and therefore has to be followed by all universities if they want federal funding.