I. Introduction

This policy set guidelines for communications regarding our students.

II. Policy

A central element of Earlham’s approach to education involves placing a great deal of responsibility upon our students, individually and collectively, from the very beginning of their college experience. We provide a great deal of advice and support, and engage students in dialogue and discussion both in and out of the classroom, but we expect them to make their own decisions and to learn from the consequences that follow from those decisions. We believe this approach best serves students’ development as autonomous adults.

In line with this approach, the College encourages students to share information with their parents or legal guardians, but ultimately the decision of what information to share rests with the student. Since Earlham is committed to students taking responsibility for their lives as young adults, the vast majority of the college’s communications are directed to the student rather than to the parents/guardians. For example, grades are provided in electronic form only to students throughout their academic careers.

We recognize that this commitment to fostering the development of the student must be balanced with the parents’ interest in the well-being and progress of their student in the College, and thus we recognize that there are times in which parental involvement can be in everyone’s best interests. Thus, while our general policy is to communicate directly with students, there are instances (enumerated below) in which we will also notify parents or legal guardians. On such occasions, we believe it is appropriate for the student to inform parents or guardians directly, so, whenever possible, we will allow time for students themselves to do so. In critical situations where prompt notification is prudent, however, a member of the Dean’s staff will contact a parent or guardian as soon as possible.

  1. Transport to a hospital in critical situations. Law prohibits health care professionals from disclosing medical information to the parents or guardian of a student without the student’s explicit consent. However, when a student needs to be transported to the hospital in a critical situation, the parent or guardian of the student will be notified. Following our general policy, when the situation permits, we will wait until the student herself or himself has the opportunity to notify the parent or guardian or until the student gives explicit consent for a third party to do so.
  2. Arrest. The parent or guardian of the student will be notified if the student is placed under arrest while on College property and detained by law enforcement officials. Note that the College does not post bail for arrested students. If a student receives a citation for a summary offense for which they are not detained, e.g., underage drinking or disorderly conduct, the College generally will not notify the parent or guardian, but the police might choose to do so themselves. In addition, if a student is arrested away from the campus, the College generally will not become involved and so will not inform the parent or guardian even if the incident comes to our attention.
  3. Unexplained absence from campus. If it comes to the attention of College officials that a student is inexplicably absent from campus for a prolonged period, a parent or guardian will be contacted in order to ascertain the whereabouts of the student.

There may be additional, unforeseen circumstances when we believe it is in the best interest of the student and of the College to notify a parent or guardian. We reserve the right to act in such cases on our own best judgment, framed within the approach to parental notification stated here.

III. Additional Considerations

The Family Educational Right to Privacy Act forbids a college or university from releasing information (other than directory information) about a student over the age of 18 to anyone outside the institution other than the student without the student’s written permission.

Policy specifications

Last revision: 02/17/2023
Responsible office: Student Life
Responsible party(ies): Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students
Approved by: President
Approval date: 08/01/2007
Effective date: 08/01/2007
Related policies: Confidentiality of Educational Records
Directory Information Policy
Associated division(s):
Associated audience(s):
Associated container(s):
Policy home: https://earlham.edu/policy/parental-notification-policy