Faculty and Staff FAQs

How does this legislation impact me as a faculty or staff member?

  • Do not disclose a student’s email, phone, phone number or address to any one who are not university employee or other school official – including other students -unless the student has affirmatively consented in writing.
  • Departmental websites must remove student contact information until the student affirmatively consents.
  • Faculty and staff cannot disclose student emails to other students and should Bcc all group emails.
  • Online student directories may no longer display a student’s mailing address, email address, or phone number, unless the student “opts-in”.

What is the procedure to obtain student consent to release their contact information?

  • The Office of the University Registrar has also created the HB1 Opt-In Form, which provides a centralized process for obtaining and viewing student consent.
  • Students may provide general consent to have their contact information shared with 3rd parties (including other students), as well as consent to have their email addresses displayed in online directories, such as PeopleFinder.
  • Faculty  or staff may also obtain student consent for limited purposes (such as for class use) simply by having the student provide written consent, as in the form of an email.
  • If you collect and share contact information via a form or website, you may want to include a consent waiver in your terms of use agreement.
  • See the Suggested Language section samples of language you may use to obtain student consent to release contact information.

How do I use the HB1 Opt-In form to see if a student has provided consent?

  • Login to the HB1 Opt-In Form using your Mason Netid and Password
  • Search By ID (G#), or
  • Search By Name (First and Last), or
  • Search by Class (year and CRN)
  • Only active students, who do not have a confidential hold, will be displayed.

How do I communicate with students?

  • You can continue to email students individually as usual.
  • To send group emails, add the students’ email addresses in the bcc field, or email the students through a listserv, to prevent disclosure to other students.
  • Do not disclose student emails to other students unless they have consented to the disclosure of their contact information.

Can I continue to use the group feature of Blackboard?  What about other features or tools?

  • Yes.  The group feature does not display student email addresses, unless the student chooses to self-disclose.
  • If you have questions about other features in Blackboard, please contact the Office of Digital Learning.

Can faculty and staff still access this information, or share it internally for legitimate educational purposes?

  • All Mason employees, including faculty, staff, student workers, or contractors doing work on the behalf of Mason can continue to access student contact information in the course of fulfilling their necessary job duties and responsibilities.
  • Please use your official Mason email for all work related communications.

Can a student be required to share their email, phone number or address with a 3rd party who is not a school official?

  • No.  If this creates problems due to program requirements, and a student does not wish to provide consent, contact the Office of the University Registrar for assistance.

Can a student be required to use software or an online program?

  • Students may be required to use software or programs, if it has been approved for use by the Architecture Standards Review Board (ASRB).

Can a students records be released to contractors, consultants, or other 3rd parties?

  • Maybe.
  • FERPA provides several exceptions for the release of student records without consent; HB1 only restricts the release of information under the Directory Information exception of FERPA.
  • If you are unsure whether you are permitted to release a students records contact the FERPA Compliance Office at ferpa@gmu.edu.

Can I use Google docs to store or share student records ?

  • No.  Google Docs has not approved for use by the Architecture Standards Review Board (ASRB).  Google is a third party, and faculty and staff who use Google to store student records may be exposing themselves to personal liability.

Will faculty have access to student email addresses if students are not enrolled in one of their courses?

  • Faculty members are allowed to access student contact information if they need that information to perform their assigned job duties.
  • As a faculty member, you will retain access to class roster information in Blackboard and Patriot Web.

Can students voluntarily share their emails with other students?

  • Students may voluntarily share their mailing address, email address, or phone number with other students, but cannot be required to share this information.

Can a student consent to disclose their contact information via an email message?

  • Yes,  if it is sent from the student’s official Mason email account to a faculty or staff members official Mason email account.
  • The email must provide affirmative consent to disclose the student contact information, and the purpose for which the consent is granted.
  • Provide the student with information on how to withdraw the consent, correct/modify their information, or review the information disclosed.
  • Keep a permanent copy (such as a PDF of the email) in your records.

Can a student provide consent verbally?

  • No.  Students must provide affirmative written consent.

What if a student copies (cc’s) another student on an email to me?  Or a student forwards another students email to me?  How should I respond?

  • The best practice when responding to an email with more than one recipient is to Bcc all students, unless they have affirmatively consented to the release of their email.

Can graduate research assistants, teaching assistants, and student workers access student contact information and other student records as part of their jobs?

  • Yes, student workers may access student records necessary to complete their job tasks.
  • Student workers may not access or use student contact information for any purpose other than those necessary for their assigned job duties.
  • All student workers should attend FERPA training.

Do graduate research assistants, teaching assistants, or other student workers need to provide consent before I share their contact information with other students?

  • Students do not need to provide consent is they are using a Mason employee email address, which ends in @gmu.edu.
  • If the student does not have a @gmu.edu email address, a departmental (generic) email can be used, or they can provide affirmative written consent to have their student email shared for work purposes.
  • GRA, TA, and student worker contact information should not be released without consent when they are not acting in their employee capacities.

How will this affect online courses?

  • The law does not distinguish between online and other courses. Online instructors may need to revise the delivery and administration of an online course to avoid disclosing this information.

What if I have further questions?

If you have additional questions regarding Code of Virginia section 23.1-405(C), contact the FERPA Compliance Office in the Office of the Registrar at ferpa@gmu.edu.


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