Beginning this June, The University of New Mexico will update its student privacy practices to better safeguard Personally Identifiable Information (PII) as it relates to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act or FERPA, by reducing the information that can be shared with third parties without a student’s written consent.

FERPA, which was designed to protect student privacy, was created and signed into law by President Gerald Ford in 1974.

As part of the update, certain categories of directory information are changing, effective with the publication of the 2019-20 UNM catalog.

“The University of New Mexico is concerned about student privacy,” said Interim Registrar Shelia Jurnak. “The changes we are implementing are meant to reflect that concern.”

PII includes obvious information, such as date of birth or home address, but could include any data that potentially identities a specific individual. Information that can be used to re-identify individuals from anonymous data can also be considered to be PII.

UNM designates certain student information as FERPA directory information, which is information that does not require student consent to be released to a third party. Information that will now be withheld includes students’ physical and email addresses, telephone listing and date of birth.

Information that will not be affected or that will only be slightly modified include major field of study, enrollment status, dates of attendance, degrees and awards received and participation in officially recognized activities and sports, and height and weight of athletics team members. 

These changes are part of UNM’s ongoing efforts to continuously improve how UNM protects student privacy. They are the result of a collaborative effort between the Information Security & Privacy Office and the Registrar’s office. The changes were reviewed by University Counsel, approved by vote of the Faculty Senate, and approved by President Garnett S. Stokes in April. The changes will become effective June 1.

“In this day and age, we are more mindful of securing information that is personally identifiable,” said Information Security & Privacy Officer Jeff Gassaway. “This change is a good example of minimization, which is reducing what information we collect and how we use it.”

In conjunction with the policy update, UNM’s Learning Central has the new FERPA training module available online. The course title and EOD number is  AACRAO Training for UNM Personnel (ONLINE COURSE EOD 795).

This training is in addition to the “Securing Private Data” training currently available through Learning Central, and will be valuable to anyone who works with student records.

For more information on how UNM protects student privacy, visit UNM’s Student Records Policy or the Regents’ Policy Manual – Section 4.4: Student Records.