Subpoenas of Student Records, Response to

Last Updated: 
05/04/2004
Effective Date: 
05/04/2004
Reason for Policy: 

To provide the context and procedures by which University Employees respond to law enforcement subpoenas for Student Records.

Policy Statement: 

The University of Oregon community regards the privacy of student records as a central and serious part of its academic mission. While privacy issues are governed by both state and federal law, the University's interest in privacy goes far beyond its commitment to comply with law. Privacy is an integral part of the academic freedom that is at the heart of the function of the modern University. Students, faculty and staff should be aware that the University supports their freedom to inquire, discuss and experiment with ideas without fear of improper government intrusion or public exposure. Though the University is supported by taxpayer funds, the mission of the University, as set out by the legal charter, centers on its autonomy as an academic institution governed by academic norms; that mission includes educating the larger community in the importance of academic freedom.

Governmental initiatives may threaten some aspects of educational privacy. As a community, therefore, the University expresses its concern that, even during times of emergency, cooperation with law enforcement and political oversight of the University, while essential in a free society, should not go beyond the legitimate needs of outside bodies requesting information about University students, faculty and staff. Members of the faculty and the staff, in particular, should be aware that non-disclosure of confidential student information in response to outside inquiry by law enforcement or investigative agencies, except consistent with legal requirements, is the norm on this campus, and that the University will support all its members in their efforts to ensure that any request for records or information is submitted with proper authority and is no broader than is required by applicable law. Faculty and staff confronted with outside demands for information by law enforcement or investigative agencies must consult with the General Counsel's Office.

Faculty and staff should in no case make any disclosure that has not been authorized by General Counsel's Office after examination of the justification for the demand. The General Counsel's Office will involve the President, to the extent permitted by law, in evaluating law enforcement subpoenas that impinge on traditional academic freedoms.

Furthermore, the University recognizes that requests for information by outside agencies can raise difficult questions of conscience for those who have custody of confidential records. In no case will a specific member of the staff be required personally by the University to provide information in response to such inquiries when such personal compliance is not required by law. Compliance with information requests will be overseen by the office of the general counsel in accordance both with the law and with the norms of academic freedom, and the University will make every effort to provide information and support to the staff on the proper scope of their duties in this regard.

Reviewed and Approved By: 
President's Small Executive Staff
Date: 
05/04/2004
Revision History: 

03/29/2004 Unanimously endorsed by the Faculty Advisory Council
April 2004 Endorsed by the University Senate
02/08/2010 Policy number revised from 1.000 to 01.00.08

Original Source: 
UO Policy Statement