COLUMN: Students’ private information available for anyone to see

By Sarah Winterton

I questioned bringing this topic to print. I didn’t want to be an accomplice to the creeping, but here’s what I’ve decided: Creepers already know how to creep. They’ve already found the outlets to private information. So, while I sincerely apologize to those who disagree, I believe informing the unknowing student body is the best method of creeper prevention.

In order to fully participate in the 21st century, yet maintain a sense of control, one must review social networking privacy settings and conduct reflective Google searches on a regular basis.

One must also monitor the detail of information released through social networking posts to avoid catching the interest of a stranger who knows that one reads the paper at that coffee shop on Rose Street every Tuesday from 9 to 10 a.m.

Finding the balance between naivety and active social networking is a 21st century art form.

Unfortunately, UK doesn’t seem to even understand the medium.

Visit, click the “Directory” tab and search yourself. Most likely you’ll find your name, your email address, your cell phone number and every part of your address — at the world’s fingertips via your university. A login is not required to access this information.

Gee, thanks UK. I kept avoiding that creepy kid in class, but I guess I’ll just go ahead and give him my number and address. You will, if I don’t.

Melanie O. Matson, director of the UK’s Violence Intervention and Prevention Center, said a recent study conducted by the UK Center for Research on Violence Against Women found that one-third of female graduates and undergraduates experienced at least one type of physical, sexual or stalking victimization while a student at UK.

“Reducing the ways (perpetrators) could access student information would increase student safety,” Matson said.

The university complies with the 1974 Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, as amended, a federal law that protects the privacy and confidentiality of personally identifiable information contained within student education records.

The law itself, however, neglects to acknowledge a student’s address as personal and confidential information.

Vice Provost for Enrollment Management Don Witt said he agrees new measures need to be taken to ensure student safety. He has started a conversation with UK’s Student Lifecycle Management team and research is underway to find a more reasonable solution to the problem.

“We’re working with the myUK team to see how we can use technology to allow students to manage how much or how little information they want released. Also, we’re working with UK’s legal office to redefine directory information,” Witt said.

The university is searching for balance — trying to protect students who want privacy without impending on the rights of others.

Most likely, UK will soon require a LinkBlue ID to access the Campus Directory, but nothing is certain.

While we’re waiting, take care of the problem yourself.

Step 1: Visit the Campus Directory Update page and edit your profile to include only the information you’re comfortable with.

Step 2: Tell everyone. Bring the directory to the attention of acquaintances, as well as friends.

Step 3: All opinions regarding the issue should be brought to the attention of the Student Records office: 10 Funkhouser Building, University of Kentucky. 859-257-7169.

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act is discussed at Freshmen Orientation, but it is quickly forgotten and most students, in the chaos of a new world, neglect to comprehend the severity of the issue.

At the very least, UK has an obligation to its students to protect their privacy. Students need to be told specifically, and more than once, the information is out there and it is his or her responsibility to click the “hide” button(s).

My home address is private information. Is yours?