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I am a doctoral student. I share an office with one other individual. As is customary, the names, emails, and offices of graduate students are published on the department site.

I am the victim in a stalking case. The authorities have been involved and I am in the middle of legal proceedings. Without going into too many details, my stalker is currently not being held. Until the situation resolves, would it be appropriate to ask my graduate administrator to strike my identifying details from the public graduate directory out of concern for my safety?

Edit: Some more relevant information... My office mate and I are moving rooms this year so my concern is more about preventing the new information appearing on the department webpage. Also, I am located in North America, and my stalker has been physically violent with me in the past resulting in admission to a hospital for treatment.

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    Which country are you in? @AlexanderWoo brings up the matters of law and regulation in his answer, so it might depend on where you are. Perhaps publicly funded schools are required to list their students in some countries?
    – James
    Aug 4 at 11:06
  • Are you employed as a graduate student teaching assistant? Aug 4 at 19:17
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    Note that removing your info from the web page won't remove it from archived copies such as the wayback machine. Those sorts of sites usually have procedures for removing information in cases like this, but you'd have to contact the individual sites for details.
    – bta
    Aug 5 at 1:20
  • I am in North America. I am moving office this year so I am not worried about archival sites. I would just like to prevent my new information from being released. Aug 6 at 14:35

3 Answers 3

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Yes. You should ask.

There may be negotiations and compromises might have to be made. (For example, they might still list your name but not your e-mail or office.) It's also possible that, as a matter of law and or regulation, they will require a court order to not list you (and they may be more or less cooperative in helping you get that court order).

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    I don't think compromises should be necessary. OP should insist on their information being removed, including their name. I guess it is possible that the administrator would require a court order, but it seems unlikely as this is a case of safety.
    – Oliver882
    Aug 4 at 8:27
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    Seems extremely unlikely that regulation would require the public listing of a postgrad researcher's personal information in any case... Let alone one such as this Aug 4 at 17:31
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    @Oliver882 Agreed. The university should never place any of its interests above the physical safety of its academics, which it would be by not removing all information requested.
    – JNS
    Aug 6 at 19:59
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It is appropriate to ask and no law would stop you from asking. I doubt that any laws would require a court order to comply if it is done with a reasonable request such as yours. The university might have its own reasons/policies for not removing you I'd guess, whether appropriate or not.

But, I think it would be completely ineffective unless other steps are taken as well. The stalker is very likely to already know such things and very likely to have seen the web site already. If you want to "hide" your email and office, then they should probably also be changed, with, for example, the old email getting filtered through some authority (compromising privacy, of course).

What you need is more proactive measures taken by the university and by legal authorities. Probably more than just court orders to (try to) prevent contact and approach. Campus security, in particular, should be apprised of the situation. Your department and its faculty should be made aware, though it might need to be done "quietly" if that is possible.

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    Don't underestimate the incompetence of people. Sometimes people will be competent, and other times they won't be. A solution that causes problems incompetent stalkers is almost always worth doing, even if you don't rely on it.
    – Yakk
    Aug 4 at 15:22
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    A lot of stalkers suffer from mental conditions where they seem completely sane one day but fall into inappropriate behavior the other day. You want the information gone in case they haven't had a "bad" day yet. Aug 4 at 18:09
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Although FERPA allows for the release of “directory information” without the students consent, you can explicitly “opt out” and keep your directory information private. For example, at IU this is done through the registrars office at the last link on this page. In addition to people with stalkers, this is common with celebrities or children of political figures. My impression is that this is usually taken quite seriously and would stop the department from listing you.

I would suggest both asking the department directly to take your info down, and also going through this process of blocking the release of directory information. Asking nicely will make you less likely to annoy someone, but the official process is needed or else your stalker could just call the registrar and find your directory information.

As usual I’m not a lawyer, this is not legal advice, and I probably have some details wrong. Talk to your local registrar’s office. You might also talk to someone at the Student Advocate’s Office (or similar) who can help you navigate this and may have additional ideas for how to protect yourself. I’m sorry you’re going through this and I hope you’re ok.

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    Pretty sure my undergrad institution hid directory information unless you released it. I had to so that my information could be verified by an external club sort of thing. Nothing in your answer is wrong, but plenty of people do it besides stalkers, celebrities, etc. Aug 5 at 19:16

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