What does the online directory say about you?

Meranda Watling

Your name. Your address. Your phone number. Your e-mail.

Are these things you would like to keep out of the hands of complete strangers?

Many students aren’t aware of what public or “directory” information is: information that is readily available to anyone, anywhere with an Internet connection.

“So it pretty much tells everything but your age and social?” sophomore chemistry major Roberto Chavez said.

Kent State’s Online Phone Directory allows anyone to search for a student by first name, last name, e-mail address and major. Any student who has not restricted his or her information can be found through the directory.

Information available through the search includes a student’s first and last name, home and local address, home and local phone number, e-mail address and major.

Before the directory was online, there was a paper directory available, Associate University Registrar Susan Cole said.

“I think, in some regards, it’s thought to be a service to students,” she said. “So if people in their class need their phone number or e-mail address, they can look them up.

“I guess the thinking is, for people who don’t want (the information available), they can restrict it.”

A form to restrict directory information from appearing in the Online Phone Directory or being given out is available on Web for Students, the Registrar’s Web site and in the schedule of classes.

Chavez said he has used the directory before to search for someone’s e-mail, but he could see it being used inappropriately.




“I don’t like it because I had someone — two people — call me last semester that I did not know,” Chavez said. “They were like ‘I know you live in this dorm and such and such.’ It was creepy.

“It’s useful because you can look up a buddy’s number, but it can be bad, like with a stalker.”

Junior education major Rachel Thomas echoed Chavez asking, “Isn’t that an invasion of privacy or something?

“It doesn’t bother me so much on campus,” she said. “But my home address?”

The information is legally available under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. FERPA is a federal regulation establishing how educational institutions handle student records.

Under FERPA, information that isn’t considered “personally identifiable” is considered “directory information” and can be released without the students consent. Names and addresses, although personally identifiable, are considered directory information because they can be found in other public directories, like a phone book.

“Directory information is information that, if shared with a third party, would not be harmful,” Cole said.

Cole said she has no knowledge of anyone using the directory for inappropriate purposes.

“I strongly disagree (that the information isn’t harmful),” Chavez said. “If you had enemies on campus that wanted to do harm to you or a family member, they could find your address.”

Shannon Diggs, freshman international relations major, said she didn’t think the information was harmful.

“I’m not that paranoid,” she said. “I don’t really care. They can look me up in the phone book or Google me. It’s not that big of a deal.”

Contact technology reporter Meranda Watling at [email protected].