Board passes new policy intended to protect student data privacy

Board passes new policy intended to protect student data privacy

BISMARCK, N.D. – The State Board of Higher Education unanimously voted to implement a new policy to protect the privacy of student data at a recent board meeting. The new policy (Policy 503.2) was originally created by the North Dakota Student Association (NDSA) and is the first of its kind in the nation to specifically address student data privacy.

Vice Chancellor Lisa Johnson said, “The policy was supported by all of the appropriate councils and committees and passed with the support of the full board. I believe this reflects the board and the system’s support of our students’ needs to address concerns about protecting their privacy of data.”

Under the leadership of the NDSA President Cambree Smith, a resolution on behalf of the students sought to outline their rights related to the collection, use, as well as control access to students’ personally identifiable information.

Smith said, “Over the last three years it has been a privilege to build a strong working relationship with the North Dakota University System, as they are such active advocates for higher education students and often allies to the North Dakota Student Association. Over the last year, the NDSA has faced many unprecedented times, as much of the country has, so I could not be prouder of the work NDUS and NDSA were able to accomplish with two highly relevant board policies regarding political activity rights and data privacy rights. These successes can surely be attributed to continuous communication and partnerships. So much of what we do right as a North Dakota University System is because we stand together, and that is certainly what happened here.”

The policy reaffirms several components of federal guidelines, often referred to as FERPA, that assures students their right to view their educational records, challenge accuracy and completeness of their educational records, and to restrict access to what is termed  “directory information.”

More recent and substantial is the language pertaining to third party providers of educational services and vendors to ensure that student’s personally identifiable information is not compromised through licensure agreements or the required use of free or open source software applications in an academic setting that captured more than a name or campus issued email address.

This draft policy was shared with NDSA members at their March meeting. Board member and student representative Kaleb Dschaak participated in that meeting and has been supportive of implementing the policy

“Feedback from the North Dakota Student Association has been positive and students expressed their appreciation of translating the details of their resolution in the board policy that was implemented last week,” said Dschaak.

At the same meeting, the board also passed SBHE Policy 503.3 that separates student political rights from those recently revised and detailed in SBHE Policy 308.3 that were more applicable to state employees, use of campus facilities, and freedom of expression. The new policy, titled Student Political Rights, has an emphasis on permissible student political activities and electioneering, in particular.