Joel Curran: UNC protecting the privacy of students

March 6, 2014 

Your Feb. 27 article “UNC won’t release records from Willingham’s research” contended that the university has not fulfilled requests for data used by Mary Willingham for her study of student-athletes. We have complied and will continue to comply with our obligation to disclose information under the N.C. Public Records Act.

It is important to remember that people are at the heart of this matter. Too often this crucial point has been overlooked.

We are not protecting information; we are protecting people’s privacy. The News & Observer asked us to hand over the actual results of tests administered to students who were thought to have learning disabilities. We cannot and will not risk identification of these students through release of this data in any form.

Our students are not random data points. They are human beings, and we will protect and defend their privacy.

We are not hiding behind the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act; we are abiding by it. Doing so is our legal obligation and the right thing to do.

Joel Curran

Vice chancellor for Communications and Public Affairs, UNC-CH

Chapel Hill

Editor’s note: The N&O’s request sought records with identifying information redacted.

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