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Limitations on Access to Student Record Information

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Student Records & Personal Information

Effective July 1, 2018, ยง 23.1-405(C) of the Code of Virginia prohibits a university from disclosing a student's email address, physical address or telephone number pursuant to a Virginia Freedom of Information Act request, or as a disclosure of Directory Information under FERPA without the student's prior written consent.

What does this mean?

The full text of the law is available here. The law prohibits a university from disclosing a student's email address, physical address or telephone number under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act unless the student has affirmatively consented in writing to the disclosure. In addition, the law prohibits the university from disclosing the student's email address, physical address or telephone number as Directory Information under FERPA, unless such disclosure is for educational purposes or institution business. This law applies to all students (undergraduate, graduate, and non-credit).

How does this law impact me as a student?

The law prohibits ODU from disclosing your email address, physical address or telephone number under the exception in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) for directory information or the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) unless you have affirmatively consented in writing to the disclosure. Please keep in mind that your email address may still be used for legitimate educational purposes and for University business.

Faculty and staff will still have access to your email address for legitimate university business. Please keep in mind that your email address will be visible to other students in classes that you are registered for, as this is necessary for purposes of instruction (for example, completing group assignments, etc.). In addition, ODU is required to provide your contact information to military recruiters under a federal law called the Solomon Amendment. For more information, please see ODU's Student Record Policy (University Policy #4100).

Am I able to send out group emails to other students?

The law restricts disclosure by ODU but does not restrict disclosure by students or others of information they lawfully possess. For example, if a student organization collects and distributes membership rosters, that disclosure is not restricted by this law. As a best practice, you may want to seek permission or permit objections before publishing the contact information of others.

How does this law affect faculty and staff?

Faculty and staff will continue to have access to student email addresses for legitimate university business and will still be able to search for students in the global address book. Please keep in mind that although you have access to student emails, they should be used only for legitimate educational purposes or University business. Student emails should not be shared with anyone without the student's prior written consent. It is acceptable for emails to be used within the class environment for educational purposes (for example, group activities). When emailing groups of students that may not all be in the same class, it is advisable to blind copy students.

For persons that are both students and employees of the University, their employee status will result in their email address being searchable on the website, unless their employment is conditional upon their status as a student (e.g., student workers, etc.).

What should faculty do to ensure that we are compliant with the law?

The most important thing is to ensure that you protect the privacy of student email addresses by treating them as confidential. You should not release student email addresses to anyone outside of ODU or share them with anyone in the institution unless there is a legitimate educational purpose for doing so. For more information about the release of student information, please see the Student Record Policy (University Policy #4100).

What about student organizations, honor societies, military recruiters, etc.?

The law prohibits ODU from releasing student email address, phone number, or physical address without the student's written consent to anyone outside the institution.* For example, a national honor society that sends membership invitations to students might ask for a list of students and their email addresses and/or mailing address. We can not provide the student's email address or mailing address to one of these organizations. However, this does not prevent an ODU faculty sponsor of one of these organizations from emailing the students directly. In addition, while we cannot release this information to third parties, the student can always provide their contact information voluntarily. When sending a link to students that takes them to an outside entity that will collect this information, it is advisable to make clear that the link is to a non-ODU site.

*The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021, effective January 1, 2021, included language that updates the student recruitment information entitled to military recruiters under the Solomon Amendment. The legislation added "electronic mail addresses (which shall be the electronic mail addresses provided by the institution, if available)."

All inquiries from military recruiters for student information should be referred to the Registrar's Office.


If you have any questions that are not covered here, please email us at register@odu.edu.