Legal and Ethical Issues
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) protects the privacy of student records and provides for student access to information in advising files. All notes should be written with that in mind and notes of a personal nature should not be included in advising files. College officials with a legitimate interest may view student files, but other parties may do so only with the students' permission.
While FERPA does make provisions for parents of dependent students to have access to student records, advisors are not in a position to determine if those provisions have been met and should not release academic information to a parent without the student’s written consent. Advisors may encourage parents to work cooperatively with students and can refer parent requests to review student records to the Registrar's Office.
Although students have certain rights to privacy, advisors may discuss confidential information with other appropriate individuals, such as deans or the Counseling Center staff, in an effort to help them. Courts generally respect this right and do not hold advisors liable for statements considered as privileged communications. However, personal information should remain confidential and should only be released if students intend to harm either themselves or others.