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UI center accidentally sends out mass email with confidential student information

BY QUENTIN MISIAG | FEBRUARY 08, 2013 5:00 AM

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University of Iowa officials in the Center for Diversity and Enrichment say they are going to revamp training efforts after an email containing names, credit hours, and grade point averages of roughly 1,700 UI students was unintentionally sent Wednesday to students associated with the center.

At approximately 4:15 p.m. on Feb. 6, the email with an attached spreadsheet of confidential information was issued to roughly 1,700 UI students, Chief Diversity Officer and UI Associate Vice President Georgina Dodge said.

Dodge said the UI is exploring future protocol to better protect student information, including ending mass student emails in favor of communication via Facebook and UI websites, but warned that errors occur given the digital world of today.

“We’re going to revamp training efforts,” Dodge said. “All of the emails going out to a group will need to be reviewed by the sender as well as one other person. This is the danger of the world we live in.”

A follow-up email sent to the center’s students after the center realized the error apologized for the slip up.

“On behalf of the Center for Diversity and Enrichment and the University of Iowa, we apologize for this error. Please know that corrective action is being taken to remedy the situation and to ensure that such mistakes do not occur again; however, our immediate concern is you,” the Thursday email said.

UI junior Anh Ngo, who serves as a trio tutor, said she is concerned with the privacy that has been breached and concerned for other students’ well-being.

“I am not upset with my privacy; I’m more confused about why they’re keeping track of my academic progress given the fact that I’m not receiving any benefits or services from them,” she said about the center. “With the trio-tutor training process, they make it very apparent that center privacy is a huge issue. This just baffles me even more when something like this happens. How can they have a file with so much information get mixed up so easily?”

Officials are asking recipients to delete the attached data and to refrain from redistributing or printing the information. Information including name, grade-point average, and number of semester hours are all protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, aimed at protecting individual privacy.


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