The office of Academic Advising has apologized for disclosing federally protected student information. The office sent an email to students considered “at risk” during midterm evaluations, failing to blind copy recipients in a mass email.
This incident violates the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act or FERPA, which prohibits the disclosure of personal educational records.
Director of Academic Advising Anne Bryan sent an apology email to those students Thursday morning.
“While no personal identifiers were disclosed or compromised, we recognize this mistake may have been upsetting for the email recipients. On behalf of the Office of Academic Advising, I deeply apologize for the disruption and confusion caused by this email,” Bryan wrote.“Moving forward, our office will take necessary steps to review how we distribute information and to make sure student information is protected and transmitted in a secure format.”
The apology comes after Elon News Network contacted Bryan about the incident, she declined to directly comment.
Michael Sloan, an Elon senior who received the email, said he was surprised when he saw the other students' names.
“I read through it, but at the very top I saw there were more email addresses on it so I clicked the down arrow, and it showed like 500 other names,” Sloan said. “So naturally I was looking through it and looking for other people that I knew who were failing a course and saw some names that I knew.”
Senior Nolan Pizzi quickly realized everyone on the email chain knew he was underperforming in class. He even replied all to the email saying “We did it people.”
“I was upset. It's not the fact that I was upset that people knew I was failing a class, it’s the fact that Elon University would do this and expose their student that they claim they‘re here for us and that they respect us and that they want us to do the best we possibly can,” Pizzi said.
Elon University’s policy for FERPA can be found on the University’s Registrar website.