The USA Patriot Act, signed into law in October 2001, has given the federal government new authority to access education records that previously were protected by FERPA, campus privacy policies, and other laws. In order to minimize any legal liability for Bethel, we must be prepared to respond to any request for access to student or employee records.
The Patriot Act does contain liability-minimizing language (e.g., a college or university shall not be liable to any person for good-faith disclosure of education records in response to a federal law enforcement request).
Since the probability of Bethel receiving a request for information under the Patriot Act is likely very small, Bethel requires a response approach for which the cost is commensurate with the risk.
Therefore, Bethel University adopts the following policy regarding its responsibility under the Patriot Act:
Any Patriot Act request (originating internally or externally) must be submitted to the Office of the President.
The request will be submitted for counsel to the institution’s legal counsel.
The institution, under the direction of the president’s designee, will respond to the request after review of the legal counsel.