The Family Policy Compliance Office is excited to announce the launch  of the new Student Privacy Website! This new website replaces both the Privacy Technical Assistance Center’s and the Family Policy Compliance Office’s sites.  The Student Privacy Website can be found at:  https://studentprivacy.ed.gov. Be sure to update your bookmarks accordingly!

Denise Grundland 8/19/15

Hello,

I think that when you set up a law that encourages the possibility of a university using a student’s mental health issues against them (defending the university), then you run the risk of adding salt to a wound for the student suing the school. It is similar to the “blaming the victim” scenario. I cannot think of an appropriate scenario, where a student’s counseling “work”, should be allowed to hold weight in a court of law FOR the school and AGAINST themselves (unless the student is suing the counseling center). Why would a student seek services or support from a counseling center, if they might feel “paranoid” that the school will you use it against them in the future should they sue the school?  Even if the student was psychotic, a threat to self or other, or showed angry tendencies,  I do not see how that would make a case stronger for the university that they are out of fault for something unrelated. They are two separate issues that should be handled separately. I think that university counseling centers are having a hard enough time reassuring students that they are not crazy if they attend counseling for support and this law would make that stigma even harder to overcome. The student might see the counseling center as a non-safe space and more allied with the university, an us versus them dichotomy. 

The only situation that should allow a university lawyer to have SOME, yet restricted, access to the counseling records is if the student is suing the counseling center or their counselor for negligence or inadequate care. 

This law, if put into effect, could also further affect the disparity of students of color or of students of the Dream Act to come forth and seek therapy when they need it because now the counseling center is associated with the “man” or the “System” and could be used against them in an entanglement with the law. For these students, it may be easier to just not get help with their struggles from the school counseling center (which is usually the only one they can afford because it is built into their tuition for a lower rate than practitioners in the community) and we may not be able to graduate these folks, as many drop out due to stressors like holding two jobs, raising their younger brothers and sisters, or feeling unaccepted by the mainstream culture of the university. There are plenty of negative effects I can see coming out of this law if it is put into effect and only one or two reasons to have it. The bad outweighs the good.

Thank you for reading.

Denise