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I have a reason to think an official from a university I previously applied to is potentially stalking me. His previous actions and attitude had made me uncomfortable. We live in the same town and at a talk I attended recently, he asked if I am a grad student at University X now (the school I chose to attend instead). I did not answer and largely tried to avoid them but I do indeed attend university X. The thing is, I really don’t want them to contact me at my university/lab so I do not want them to know my information related to this school. I asked the office of registrar to make my directory information confidential. It took a few days and I have also been told that FERPA confidentiality has some limitations and it seems release of information to educational institution officials is one of them. As long as a university official contacts the school with an education-related interest (it would be easy to fake one, I think), apparently revealing my information is at the discretion of the school and not governed by FERPA. Is this correct?

If they were to contact my university as an official from a different university / department head, would they be told any of the following information: - My current address and phone number - The department and the labs I work in - My office address and office phone number - Dates of attendance - Classes I am currently taking and their schedule etc?

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Some of the information you mention might be considered public information and not "educational" and so not covered by the law. Your courses, and similar are probably covered, but FERPA is more intended to cover your performance. But if you are concerned for your safety, for example, you need legal counsel. The university may be able to provide it via some office dedicated to student services. But for a serious concern you may need to contact a lawyer or even the police. In some situations, a university can bar a person from school facilities, of course.

It may be a crime for someone to use the university systems to harass or stalk you, but if they are willing to risk it, you would be at risk, so you need to take precautions. But for serious interventions, you probably need some evidence or corroboration by others. Some people are just awkward rather than creepy, but only you can really judge that.

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FERPA distinguishes between directory information (generally public unless the student has requested confidentiality) and other student records such as grades that are always confidential except for university employees who need the information to perform their duties.

If you have requested confidentiality for your directory information then the only answer that should be given under FERPA is something like “I can neither confirm nor deny that Linda Mona is a student at our institution.”

In practice, information like this can often be social engineered out of staff, faculty, and other students. If you are concerned about this, it might help to remind your advisor, department chair, and support staff that you have asked for your directory information to be confidential and that you have reason to fear a stalker.

Also, if your department maintains a web site listing graduate students in the department you can ask that your name be kept off that web site.

It is very unlikely that your registrar’s office would reveal this information if you have had it marked confidential- they are generally well trained on this issue and will only release this information in response to a request from you.

To answer your particular question, an official at another university should be treated under FERPA exactly the same as anyone else outside of your institution. For example, if you apply to another university you will have to ask your current university to release your transcripts to that other institution.

Because this rule is strict, many students ultimately decide to make their directory information public. For example, background checks and letters of recommendation can be difficult to get if you have confidential directory information. Furthermore, your name won’t appear on graduation lists or lists of award winners if you’ve requested confidentiality.

Also, there are many situations under which you would have to make your affiliation and contact information public as a graduate student. For example, if you work as a TA you would have to reveal this information to your students and they would have no obligation of confidentiality. Similarly, if you give a conference presentation or publish a paper you’ll need to list your affiliation. When you complete your thesis or dissertation you will most likely have to publish it in a way that makes your affiliation public. If you ultimately go on the academic job market you will definitely want to have a professional website and profiles on services like Google Scholar.

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