Privacy of Information

Many graduate assistants will have access to information about students, employees, or research subjects at Appalachian. Much of this information must be kept confidential, and you should not share any information without first consulting your supervisor. There is some directory information (i.e. name, address and phone number) that Appalachian is required by law to disclose upon request, but you should refer these queries to your supervisor.

Student Information

FERPA is the federal policy that governs who has the right to access student education records. The general principle is this: student education records (of current and former students) are confidential, and, without the student's written consent, such records may not be disclosed to, or discussed with, any unauthorized person -- even the student's parents (unless the student is the parent's "dependent" and this has been verified through the Registrar's Office).

The only people at ASU who may examine a student's education records without the student's consent are University employees with a legitimate educational interest in the record at issue. Breach of confidentiality is grounds for discipline, and may subject the person who violates confidentiality to liability in a civil lawsuit.


Employee Information

Employee information contained in personnel records is also confidential under the State Personnel Act. By state law (G.S. 126-22 et seq.), a personnel record is defined as:

"Any information gathered by the department ... or other agency ... which employs an individual, previously employed an individual, or considered an individual's application for employment, or by the office of State Personnel, and which information relates to the individual's application, selection or nonselection, promotions, demotions, transfers, leave, salary, suspension, performance evaluation forms, disciplinary actions, and termination of employment wherever located and in whatever form."

Research Subject Information

There are strict rules surrounding the privacy of research subjects, and before you collect any information from people you should clear your plans through the Institutional Review Board. Your supervisor can help you with that process. Your safest course of action is to refrain from data collection until your research has either been deemed exempt from Human Subjects Review, or until IRB approval has been received. It's also best practice NOT to discuss research data with anyone except your supervisor until and unless you are clear on any restrictions that might apply to disclosure of your data.