Governor Releases Guidelines On Privacy and Student Files

Gov. Francis W. Sargent issued general recommendations to Massachusetts colleges yesterday for the implementation of new federal statutes dealing with student access to records.

Guarantee Opportunity

The guidelines were given along with an executive order on privacy outlining the procedures state agencies may use in collecting personal information and guaranteeing the citizens involved "an opportunity to view such data" upon request.

Daniel Steiner '54, general counsel to the University, was unavailable for comment, but in the past he has expressed opposition to opening files to students.

Under the 14-point-plan for colleges, information ranging from name and address to medical reports would be classified as "available", "confidential", and "very confidential" with accessibility limited accordingly. Students would be allowed to view all academic and personal files, but may be restricted from certain medical information.


The Harvard Faculty has opposed the student access bill since its passage last May. Steiner said at that time that the bill was "too widely written" and would "work to the detriment of students." The Harvard Faculty Council plans to issue its own plans for granting student access to files later this week.

No Unnecessary Info

The executive order, entitled "Fair Information Practices," states that "no such agency shall collect any personal data other than necessary for the performance of its functions authorized by law."

Dispersal of personal information will be restricted in that no agencies will be allowed to "use personal data collected for one purpose for another unrelated purpose without the consent or knowledge of the data subject."

Among the agencies affected by the order are the Welfare Department, The Motor Vehicle Commission, public and mental health services, and youth services.

Jonathan Brant, counsel to the Governor's Commission on Privacy, said that the order was an attempt to provide "an all-encompassing law on personal information with various accessibility."