ICYMI: Code of Conduct policies have changed at WVU

According to a new policy that went into effect this semester, West Virginia University is now legally allowed, but not required, to contact the parents of students under the age of 21 for a drug or alcohol violation.

While the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) typically prohibits the University to contact parents, it now permits “disclosure to parents/guardians of the student’s violation of any Federal, State or local law, or of any rule or policy of the institution, governing the use or possession of alcohol or a controlled substance,” according to the Office of Student Conduct's website.

“This is an exception to FERPA, and so we believe that in a case like this is can be beneficial to students to be able to have their parents involved and have their parents kind of partner with us to provide help when needed or at least provide education,” said Interim Director of Student Conduct Carrie Showalter to the Daily Athenaeum.

Not all parents of students who violate these laws will be contacted. It will strictly be considered case-by-case. The Office of Student Conduct can only contact parents in the cases of alcohol and drug violations and cannot inform them about additional charges, according to an article in the Daily Athenaeum.

Students who violate these laws do not need to fill out any paperwork or approve anything prior to his or her parents being contacted by the Office of Student Conduct or the Office of Residence Life.

There are a few benefits to this policy change. It will encourage students to stay out of trouble and be cautious of the situations they are putting themselves in. This will also encourage students to focus on schoolwork, both of which WVU has placed a lot of attention on in recent years.

“This policy change is intended as an educational strategy, to enable parents/guardians to partner with appropriate University representatives to reduce the risk of students developing behavioral patterns that place their health and well-being at risk,” according to the Office of Student Conduct website.

But do parents have the right to know what a student, who is a legal adult, is doing here in Morgantown? Some students don’t agree.

“I think it contradicts the fact that at 18, you’re a legal adult,” said Lacy Tori, a sophomore nursing student.

In a response to a tweet from the Daily Athenaeum about the FERPA law, Cailin Harper said, “don’t give us adult consequences if you are going to treat us like children.”

Some students, such as junior accounting major Andrew Gonzales, believe the new policy change is a violation of privacy.

“This change in university policy effects more than just living in dorms,” Gonzales said. “It’s a violation of privacy and should not have been included into FERPA law. I have already been under scrutiny by this new policy—I am a junior living off-campus and was written a citation by the University Police Department for a nuisance party, off-campus, this past weekend and now must go through the university’s policies and this will be added to my student charges.”

There is also the possibility that the policy will deter younger students from calling for medical attention, in fear of the university’s consequences or their parents finding out.

“These new policies will deter freshmen who need medical assistance from calling for help, which will make the issue even worse,” Gonzales said. “This was a bad move by the university and they will realize it once word spreads.”

What do you think of the policy change? Tweet us your thoughts @HerCampusWVU.