Communication between universities and parents/guardians regarding the campus experience of their student is a topic of much discussion. Students arrive on campus expecting considerable independence and respect for their privacy. Parents/guardians continue to be vitally interested in the education and well-being of their student.
Binghamton University is guided by the principle that students’ active involvement in their own education enhances their learning and development. In keeping with this principle, the University considers its primary relationship to be with its students. Accordingly, the University will generally communicate information to students rather than to parents/guardians, regardless of the student’s age. This practice is consistent with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, the federal law governing the privacy of educational records.
There are other circumstances in which the University may communicate directly with parents/guardians. The University will contact parents/guardians in most instances of health emergencies, serious accidents or other serious medical or psychological conditions, including those that arise out of alcohol or other drug overdose when it has been made aware of such incidents. The University will, however, continue to rely on the judgment of its staff when assessing each situation to determine when to ask parents/guardians for their assistance. For non-emergency situations in which students are seeking medical or psychological treatment, including treatment for substance abuse, the campus respects client/provider confidentiality in accordance with established state and federal law. In such instances, communication with parents/guardians is only with the permission of the student who signs the appropriate release form. In general, the University does not communicate with parents/guardians regarding matters of student discipline. However, when dependent students are involved in a series of minor violations or a single serious violation, notification to parents/guardians may occur through the sanctioning process.
Academic progress is reported to students with the expectation that this information will be part of ongoing discussions with parents/guardians. We do hope that students will communicate openly with their parents/guardians regarding their academic progress and other important issues. We encourage parents/guardians and their students to discuss how they will communicate before the academic year. We believe the best way is for parents/guardians to ask their student for the information they desire. Another option is for the student to provide a written consent form authorizing the University to share specified information with a parent/guardian. The necessary forms can be found on the Student Affairs policy page.