Virginia Tech is now notifying parents when students under 21 are disciplined for alcohol- and drug-related violations.
Tech officials said they're exercising a provision of the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act that allows the university to notify parents when students are disciplined for alcohol and drug-related infractions -- even on a first offense.
The university adopted the new policy in January in response to many parental requests. Students were told of the new policy by campus e-mail Jan. 22.
What happened to what happens at college, stays at college?
Yes, underage drinking and drug use is bad, bad, bad. But college used to be a time of experimentation and exploration. Of learning things in your books and out, like indecent texting, YouTubing your roommates' less-than-finer moments and posting photos on Facebook that will haunt you for the rest of your life. Not a time for your university to rat you out on your first stupid attempt at partying hard.
Virginia Tech already has a "three strikes'' policy in effect for alcohol violations. And, under cooperative agreements, local and state police report off-campus violations such as underage alcohol possession to the university.
Under a previous policy, parents were also notified of violations only after a second offense -- which became a problem, according to Ed Spencer, vice president for student affairs.
"What's happened over the years is you'd have a student who's found responsible for a minor violation [considered strike one under the university's policy]. Then they get involved in a major, or second, strike, and before the parents even knew about it, they were suspended," Spencer told the Roanoke Times.
And, while some students see the new policy as a violation of their privacy rights as adults, others agree with it.
"It's a good change for the most part," said Eric Evert, an 18-year-old Tech mathematics major. "You're only going to be angry about it if you're going to be doing it -- and you shouldn't."
"Parents are paying the bill for college," 18-year-old biology major Grace Mulholland said. "They should be notified."
But of course they should. Can you hear the sound of certain would-be Virginia Tech students crumpling up their applications?