• Hartwick student studying on her computer
  • Hartwick students hanging out in between classes
  • Hartwick students laughing and having fun
  • Hartwick students at gallery show opening

Student Privacy Rights and Confidentiality

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act
Parental Notification Policy
Personal Records (Office of Student Affairs)
Background Checks
Letters of Recommendation (Office of Student Affairs)
Psychiatric Intervention Policy (Emergency Situations)
Criminal Investigations of College Policy Violations
Right to Privacy for Students Living On Campus

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) affords students certain rights with respect to their education records.

Parental Notification Policy
The College reserves the right to notify parents/guardians of emergent situations.  Factors impacting the decision to notify include student age, type of situation, ability/inability of the student to provide consent, student status and other similar information. Prior to such action, whenever reasonably possible, appropriate College personnel will be consulted to determine if notification is appropriate.  The student affairs staff member on call will be responsible for notification.

The College also reserves the right to notify parents/guardians in situations where a student under the age of 21 violates alcohol or drug policy.

Personal Records (Office of Student Affairs)
The Office of Student Affairs maintains personal records for all currently enrolled students.  A typical student file includes correspondence, records of honors and other important events, records of formal disciplinary action, and staff conference notes.  These files are the working records of the professional student affairs staff, and their use is restricted to authorized personnel.  The policies outlined in this section of the handbook provide safeguards for student privacy and are prudently and objectively administered.  These records are not available for inspection by other College offices, faculty, students, parents, investigators, or other individuals except when authorized by the vice president for student affairs or the president of the College under the following conditions:

  • Information is needed to handle an emergency; or
  • Person needing information is in a position for counseling and/or assisting the student; or
  • Parents, guardians and/or appropriate law enforcement personnel when a student is sanctioned with removal from College housing, residence hall probation, disciplinary probation, suspension, or expulsion, or when a student violates the College's alcohol and other drug policy

A student may review his/her own record in conference with the vice president for student affairs or a member of his/her staff.  If an apparent mistake is found, adjustment of the record may be conducted informally.  A student has the right to place in his/her file a written explanation of any information contained in the file that the student believes to be misleading, inaccurate, or inappropriate.  In addition, a student may add to his/her file letters, clippings, summaries of activities, or other significant information which will assist College officials when called upon to make recommendations on behalf of the student to other colleges, future employers, etc. The student affairs policy regarding response to requests for letters of recommendation from sources other than the student is described below; see Letters of Recommendation (Office of Student Affairs) .

To serve the needs of the students and the College, the following policies govern the release of information in student personal records and the maintenance of these records:

  1. The following information will be released without student consent to appropriate Hartwick College offices to be used only within Hartwick College: place of birth, date of birth, date of attendance, academic standing, class, local address, home address, parent's names and address(es).
  2. The following information will be released without student consent in response to any reasonable inquiry from any source: confirmation of date of birth, confirmation of dates of attendance, class, estimated date of graduation, local address (only for currently enrolled students), degree(s) granted (if any).
  3. No other information is disclosed without the written permission of the student.   A record is maintained of each inquiry and is available to the student.  Students seeking transfer admission to another institution, admission to graduate programs, or who expect reference requests from prospective employers to be received by the Office of Student Affairs may wish to authorize the release of specific additional information.  This information may include notices of honors and awards, elected student offices, participation in activities, etc.
  4. Students wishing to have personal letters of recommendation initiated by the Office of Student Affairs may arrange to do so by conferring with the vice president or a member of his/her staff and signing a release form.
  5. Record of disciplinary probation is not disclosed to any source outside the College, without written consent of the student, except to parents and guardians. Suspension and expulsion, because they interrupt a student's enrollment, are recorded at the Registrar's Office and become part of the student's educational record, from which transcripts are made.  The circumstances surrounding disciplinary action are not released without a student's written permission except to parents and guardians, and except to the complainant in cases of violence, rape/sodomy, sexual misconduct and sexual harassment.
  6. After a student graduates, his/her personal record is purged of all reports, correspondence and forms, and these are destroyed.
  7. If a student leaves Hartwick prior to graduation, his/her personal records are retained for five years, at which time the record is purged (see #6 above).  During this five-year period, the above policies concerning the use and release of information in these files continue to apply.

Background Checks
Hartwick College recognizes that certain organizations, institutions and agencies may require criminal background checks on and/or fingerprinting of students as a condition of the student's placement in an internship, practicum, apprenticeship, service learning project or student teaching assignment.  The College statement, with more detailed information, can be found in the Hartwick College Catalog.

Letters of Recommendation (Office of Student Affairs)
At times, the Office of Student Affairs receives requests for information regarding students or former students.  The office responds in one of three ways depending upon the circumstances.

  • If the individual in question is presently a student, or was a student within the last five years but did not graduate because of voluntary withdrawal, academic dismissal, leave of absence, suspension or expulsion, a letter will be sent to the inquirer and a copy sent to the student.  The letter will read substantially as follows:

"Your request for information regarding (student) has been received.  Hartwick College does not, as a matter of policy, release personal or academic information on students without permission of the student involved.  Upon receipt of that written permission, we shall be pleased to respond to your request."

  • If the student left Hartwick without being graduated and the date of departure is more than five years old, an additional paragraph would be added to the letter above, reading substantially as follows:

"You should know, however, that the Office of Student Affairs does not retain cumulative personal records beyond five years of the last date of attendance.  Any information beyond purely personal recollections should therefore, be requested from the student him/herself."

  • If the student has been graduated, the reply would consist of the first paragraph above and a second paragraph reading substantially as follows:

"You should know, however, that the Office of Student Affairs does not retain cumulative personal records beyond graduation.  This procedure is predicated on the philosophy that the fact of graduation affirms completion of all degree requirements, social as well as academic, and constitutes the only endorsement the College can ethically give.  Any information should, therefore, be requested from the student him/herself."

Information regarding student records maintained by the Office of Student Affairs is described under Personal Records (Office of Student Affairs) .

Psychiatric Intervention Policy (Emergency Situations)
Hartwick College recognizes that in some cases a student’s ability to function on the campus may be impaired as a result of apparent serious psychiatric issues. In instances where a student is a danger to self or others, unable to meet basic expectations, or is extremely disruptive to the normal operation of the College, the institution reserves the right to take immediate action to protect the individual and to ensure the campus is not adversely affected. Issues to be considered under this policy include, but are not limited to:

  • Suicidal ideation/attempt
  • Homicidal ideation/attempt
  • Self-abusive behavior (cutting, burning, etc.)
  • Chronic abuse of alcohol or other drugs
  • Eating disorder
  • Serious disruptive or dangerous behavior
  • Inability to care for self
  • Inability to meet basic responsibilities

In situations where suspected serious psychiatric issues arise, the vice president for student affairs or his/her designee will convene all relevant parties (counseling, residential life, faculty, campus safety, Office of Advising and Registration, etc.) to document the seriousness of the situation. Family contact may be initiated if believed it would be in the best interest of the student.

Once the situation has been reviewed and documented, the following courses of action may be taken:

  • Mandated Off-Campus Assessment: The student will be required to complete a comprehensive assessment with an off-campus treatment provider within 72 hours. As a condition of continued enrollment, the student will be required to comply with all recommendations of the assessment. The student will be responsible for all costs associated with the assessment and recommendations. A student required to complete an assessment and recommendations may be barred from being on campus and attending classes until such time that the assessment and recommendations are completed. Results of the assessment must be provided to the vice president for student affairs or his/her designee. 
  • Removal from College Housing: In situations where it is believed that the student’s level of functioning is extremely impaired, the student may be removed from College housing. This action can be short term (e.g. until a formal assessment is completed) or for a longer duration, depending on individual circumstances. No refund of housing costs will be provided. 
  • Emergency Withdrawal: In extreme situations, the institution reserves the right to immediately withdraw a student from the College. Such action will be taken only when a student demonstrates the inability to continue as a student or presents an immediate danger to self or others. Such action will be the responsibility of the vice president for student affairs or his/her designee in consultation with other members of the College professional staff. An emergency withdrawal is similar to a medical withdrawal in terms of potential refunds, withdrawals from class and incompletes. Please consult the Hartwick College Catalog (link) for details on these issues.
  • Disciplinary Action: Although the primary purpose of this policy is to address and support the psychiatric needs of students, often the behaviors exhibited may also be violations of College policy. The institution reserves the right to adjudicate such violations through the normal adjudicating bodies of the College. Determination will be made by the vice president for student affairs or his/her designee.

Appeals of the above courses of action will be reviewed by the president of the College or his/her designee.

Criminal Investigations of College Policy Violations
Properties of Hartwick College are not a haven from the law. The institution will support all investigations of alleged criminal activity. In the case of violent felony, the College reserves the right to take such action as necessary for campus safety and College function. The vice president for student affairs or his/her designee will collaborate with community police agencies or other external constituencies as allowed under current law. The College reserves the right to conduct its own investigation and take appropriate action under its judicial system. Additionally, the Oneonta Police Department, State Police or other law enforcement officials will work collaboratively with Hartwick College to investigate the disappearance of a student. College protocols for this are detailed in the Hartwick College Crisis Management Plan, available for review at the Office of Student Affairs. The vice president for student affairs or his/her designee will meet annually with local police agencies to ensure a positive working relationship.  

Right to Privacy for Students Living On Campus
The College reserves the reasonable right to enter a residence hall room in order to ensure proper maintenance, to provide for the protection, safety and welfare of students and the College, and/or to investigate when reasonable cause exists to believe that a violation of residential life policy or College policies, procedures, rules or regulations has occurred or is occurring.

Based upon the nature of the need to enter a student room, the following procedures will be followed:

Facilities Maintenance and Repair: Appropriate College personnel may enter a student's room, when authorized by a properly executed work order authorized by the supervisor of custodial services or the director of buildings and grounds, in order to perform scheduled maintenance and/or repairs.

Health/Safety Inspection: Periodic inspections are conducted during the year by the Oneonta Fire Department, Building Codes Enforcement Department, Health Department, and College insurance representatives for the purpose of protecting the health, welfare, and safety of the College community.  These regular inspections will be announced in advance and when practical they will be conducted in the presence of the occupants and/or a member of the residence hall staff.  When the College is in recess, these inspections will be conducted with a member of the College staff designated by the vice president for student affairs or the director of campus safety.

Emergency Inspections: When there is reasonable cause to believe that there is imminent danger to the life, safety, health, or property of a student or that of the College, inspections may be made by any member of the residence hall, campus safety, student affairs, or maintenance staff without prior approval in order to take whatever corrective action is necessary or initiate whatever emergency response is appropriate. Under these circumstances, a full written report setting forth the nature of the emergency and the action taken will be submitted to the immediate supervisor of those making the inspection and to the vice president for student affairs.

Campus Safety Inspections during College Recess: During College recesses, members of the residence hall staff, campus safety and housing and maintenance staff inspect residence halls to ensure they are and remain secure.  During closing, students' rooms are checked to be certain that lights are off, windows are closed and locked, and blinds are closed.  During the recess, inspections are usually confined to exterior doors and public areas, but students' rooms may be inspected if an observation is made that suggests the security of the hall has been breached.  A written report will be made to the director of campus safety and vice president for student affairs when it is necessary to enter a room in order to secure the building.  If a room inspection (during closing or during the recess) prompts reasonable cause to believe that College policies, procedures, rules or regulations are being violated, the vice president for student affairs or his/her designee may authorize a thorough search of the room.

Searches by Civil Authorities Pursuant with a Search Warrant: In the event a search warrant is issued by civil authorities for a residence hall or part thereof, campus safety personnel will accompany the authorities executing the search warrant solely to facilitate entry in areas.

Inspections of Student Rooms to Investigate Suspected Violations: If there is reasonable cause to believe that College policies, procedures, rules or regulations are being violated, the vice president for student affairs or his/her designee may authorize entry into a student's room.  This may be done either verbally or in writing.  Such inspections are considered a reasonable exercise of the College's responsibility to maintain discipline and an educational atmosphere.  When practical, the inspection will be conducted in the presence of the occupants of the room.  At least two members of the College staff will conduct the inspection and a full written report of the inspection will be given to the vice president for student affairs.  College officials with probable cause may search a residence without approval by the vice president for student affairs, particularly when there is reason to believe that illegal drugs are being used, sold, bought or given away in that residence.  This type of inspection may also be conducted in recognized Greek houses when deemed appropriate.

Confiscation of Items or Property: During the course of any inspection, if any property is observed which is unlawful or in violation of College policies, procedures, rules or regulations, the property may be confiscated.  The decision to confiscate property is made on the basis of common sense, property value, and the likelihood of rapid disposal.  All confiscated property will be given immediately to the director of campus safety, or to other appropriate student affairs staff, and he/she will send a full report to the vice president for student affairs.  Confiscated property will not be returned if it is deemed in violation of College policies, procedures, rules or regulations.