ACLU threatens to sue Nevada college for selling student names

The American Civil Liberties Union has threatened to sue the Nevada public college system if it does not stop selling the names and addresses of former students to credit-card companies without their informed consent.

Gary Peck, executive director of the ACLU of Nevada, sent a letter to Jane Nichols, chancellor of the University and Community College System of Nevada, on Jan. 22 stating that the system was in violation of the Family Educational Records and Privacy Act for its practices. FERPA, commonly known as the Buckley Amendment, regulates the release of student education records.

“Specifically, we understand that the University of Nevada Reno currently provides the names and addresses of former students to MBNA, a large independent credit-card issuer based in Delaware,” Peck said in the letter. “In exchange, MBNA provides the university with a portion of the profits on credit-card purchases; the university received $58,000 under the program last year.”\n \nThe Community College of Southern Nevada may also be in violation of FERPA, Peck said. The ACLU became involved last year when a student at the community college complained publicly that unbeknownst to her, the college had provided her contact information to a credit-card company.