Disclosure of student contact information

VCU instructional faculty, administrators and staff maintain the confidentiality of student records and disclose information in accordance with the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act and Virginia law. This means that VCU officials disclose student records without the consent of the student to other university officials as necessary to perform their job duties because they are school officials who have a legitimate educational interest in the student information.

Federal law generally permits the university to publish a student’s directory information or disclose it to the public, but, importantly, Virginia law[1] requires the university to obtain a student’s affirmative written consent before disclosing their contact information (email address, physical address or telephone number) to anyone except either (1) a FERPA school official or, as of July 1, 2019, (2) a student enrolled in course(s) at VCU

The university has developed a system for seeking consent to share student contact information with members of the university community. But any disclosure outside the university community requires separate written consent.

Automated consent

Students can easily give consent to display their email address to other VCU students (whether or not they are currently enrolled) and members of the VCU community by visiting MyVCU portal and activating the "privacy setting" toggle in the box in the upper left corner of the Student Tab (see images below).

Note that this consent is limited to disclosure within the university community and does not permit the university to display or provide a student’s email address to the general public.

Email address privacy setting    

 Email address privacy setting

Written consent

If a student has not provided consent through MyVCU portal or your intended contact information disclosure is outside of the scope of the MyVCU portal consent (e.g., to be posted on a syllabus that will be made available on the Internet, posted on a collaborative website, etc.), you must obtain affirmative written consent for the disclosure. 

Quick points

Virginia law protects the contact information of students in all academic program levels: undergraduate, master’s, doctoral, first professional and certificate.

  • Faculty will continue to have access to contact information for all students in their courses.
  • Student consent is still required for non-academic use of directory information.
  • NEW: Faculty members and administrators may disclose student contact information to other students enrolled in their courses; you are no longer required to blind copy student email addresses when the email is sent to students in a specific course/section.
  • NEW: Faculty using Canvas for their classes may now use all email, roster and group functions without the need to blind copy.
  • Faculty, administrators and staff must verify that all recipients of an email containing student emails are either students who are enrolled in courses or school officials. Otherwise, they may use the blind copy function.
  • Students may share their emails. These privacy laws do not restrict email address sharing by students.
  • If you wish to place student email addresses on a syllabus, website, etc., you must obtain affirmative written consent from each student.
  • Faculty and staff can determine if a student has provided consent for disclosure within the university community through the MyVCU portal at directory.vcu.edu.



If you have additional questions about FERPA or the Virginia law protecting student contact information, Code of Virginia § 23.1-405(C), email the VCU Information Security Office (infosec@vcu.edu) or the Office of the University Registrar (rar@vcu.edu). 

[1] Code of Virginia section 23.1-405(C), took effect July 1, 2018, and was amended July 1, 2019, to permit disclosure for university purposes to students enrolled in courses.(e.g. to be posted on a syllabus that will be made available on the Internet, posted on a collaborative website, etc.), you must obtain affirmative written consent for the disclosure. Suggested text for the request for consent is included in the first entry under "General" in the FAQ above.