The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Campus email lists sold to third parties

UW-Eau Claire releases some student directory information if it’s requested by a business or organization under the state of Wisconsin’s open records law.Typically, the information that is released is student names and email addresses, but home addresses and phone numbers can be requested as well, Registrar Jim Barrett said.“According to Wisconsin open records law, if there isn’t a protected status required under a federal statute, we have an obligation to release that information,” Barrett said. “In the case of our directory of student names, email addresses, addresses, that’s a report that exists and can be released.”

Some students have voiced their concerns about getting a lot of junk emails, Barrett said.

Cassie Kittelson, a freshman at Eau Claire, said junk email has been a bit of a problem for her.

“I already get a lot of emails anyway and junk emails make it difficult to sift through it all,” she said. I really only use my campus email for school, and I’ve been getting more junk emails than useful emails lately.”

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Sometimes, though, problems other than just junk mail accumulation can arise, Barrett said. Some companies offer students services while pretending to be a part of the university, something that Barrett said the university is aware of and not happy about.

“We had a situation with a financial aid circumstance where students were sent a letter that looked official and it was a vendor,” he said.

Keeping students’ information safe is something both federal law and the university is trying to working on, Barrett said.

More personal information, such as student ID numbers and GPA, is not released, Barrett said. Under the Federal Family Education Rights and Privacy Act, the university cannot release anything that is considered personally identifiable that would allow outside entities to access private information, Barrett said.

While a home address is personally identifiable, it doesn’t allow access to personal information such as grades, Barrett said, so it is considered basic directory information that can be released.

Barrett said if students are having trouble with junk email, students can change their privacy settings online.

There are three levels of privacy settings when it comes to directory information, according to the Records and Registration office’s website. The first option for students keeps their phone number private. The second keeps their physical address private. The third keeps everything private including the enrollment status, major and awards won by the student.

With the third option of complete privacy comes at least one drawback, Barrett said.

“It prevents us (the university) from even giving references for someone who’s looking for a job,” he said. “It also restricts email addresses from instructional use within the university.”

To combat the problems of third party emails, Barrett said that he has been working with both Learning and Technology Services and the Student Senate to see if any measures can be taken to allow students to opt out of their information being given to third parties, possibly right on MyBlugold CampS. At this time, it is still uncertain if this will be a possibility, Barrett said.

“We’re looking at that very seriously to see what can be done,” he said. “Because on the other side of that, we cannot refuse an open records request for available directory information.”

The university typically charges third parties $75 for information from open records requests, Barrett said. So far this year, Barrett said five requests have been made. These requests were made by the U.S. Army, the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, student organizations that don’t receive segregated fees and companies offering graduation announcements and graduation pictures.

If students wish to change the privacy of their directory information, they can do so at

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Campus email lists sold to third parties