U. of Memphis: Names of alumni implicated in hazing are confidential under FERPA

The University of Memphis banned Zeta Phi Beta sorority from campus for three years for code-of-conduct violations including hazing, physical abuse and “conduct dangerous to others.” University records obtained by the Daily Helmsman student newspaper indicate that alumni as well as current students participated in the abuse, which took place at the home of a former student and left one would-be ZBT with a broken nose. But Memphis won’t release information about the identity of the non-student assailants, citing the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

Former SPLC Executive Director Frank LoMonte: First things first – what’s the polite thing to bring to a hostess’ home when she invites you over to beat up sorority pledges? Pound cake, maybe? And is there a Lilly Pulitzer line of brass knuckles?

Seriously, it’s disturbing to see sororities behaving like, well, fraternities – you thought/hoped that only the booze-addled male mind was capable of such innovations as the Anus Rocket. We haven’t closed the wage gap, but we’ve successfully bridged the Stupid Gap.

And speaking of stupid … why in the world, if you’re the University of Memphis, would it seem important to you to protect the “privacy” of a dumbass who hosts beat-down parties? Wait, don’t answer that. Memphis is part of its own elite fraternal organization for which the answer to every question (including “have we had any rapes lately?”) is always “FERPA.”

The Department of Education says that records about alumni “directly related” to their attendance as students are covered by FERPA’s prohibition against disclosing “education records.” But the DOE has gone on to explain that “personally identifiable
information related solely to a student’s activities as an alumnus of
an institution is excluded from the definition of education records” and therefore not subject to withholding under FERPA.

In extending FERPA to records created after a student graduates, the Department meant to protect such documents as the results of disputes over special-education placements that might continue even after the student has left the school. Unless this was one mighty long house party, it didn’t start until after the homeowner had already graduated from Memphis – meaning the records were not “directly related” to her attendance as a student. Anyone can host a social event (or, since the attendees got smacked in the face, an anti-social event), so there’s nothing about the party that is unique to the host’s status as a student.

Memphis can, and should, disclose the records of who hosted Ultimate Sorority Smackdown. So the next time that hostess offers her guests the punch, they’re ready to duck.

We rate this: not protected by FERPA at all