The purpose of the University of Mississippi Parent and Family Communication Practices is to provide a clear and concise resource for parents, families, and campus partners about how and when the Division of Student Affairs communicates with family members of University students.
As your student matriculates through the University of Mississippi, the vast amount of communication will be sent from the university directly to your student. Our approach is driven by our educational mission and philosophy. We want students to understand that in college they are responsible for their decisions and choices. To that end, we deliver information and resources directly to them to facilitate their development and maturity. In extreme situations, there are exceptions to this approach. This resource book was developed to help parent and family members better understand when you will or will not hear from the university, as well as how to receive more information about campus events and updates.
We certainly understand parents and family members are critical partners in this educational journey. Please ask your students about university communications and sign up for our communications as well. By teaming up to empower your student to find reliable resources on campus, we facilitate their growth. We encourage you to use this approach to help your student navigate obstacles that s/he would have normally relied on you for.
As a parent or involved family member, the Ole Miss Family Association is your main contact and source of information at the University of Mississippi. We encourage you to follow the Ole Miss Family Association on Facebook. Other “parent pages” that are not associated with UM often provide inaccurate information and have created confusion for parents in the past. You can find a list of reliable departments and related social media accounts at the end of this document.
Federal Requirements—The Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act
There are instances when the university cannot share details of your student’s education or activities because of FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act). FERPA is a federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education.
FERPA gives parents certain rights with respect to their children’s education records. These rights transfer to the student when he or she reaches the age of 18 or attends a school beyond the high school level. Students to whom the rights have transferred are “eligible students”, meaning academic standing information is communicated directly to the student. College students are considered responsible adults who determine who will receive information about them. College representatives are prohibited from discussing information about the student’s academic record with parents. The University of Mississippi offers a waiver form which students can sign allowing records to be released to parents or college representatives, such as faculty members, to discuss records with parents or guardians. Your student may, or may not, wish to sign this release—we encourage you to discuss this issue.
In addition to FERPA, if your student is seeking counseling from the University Counseling Center or services at Student Health Center, those records will not be shared without the written permission of the student because of the HIPAA Privacy Rule. Officially known as the Standards for Privacy of Individually Identifiable Health Information, this rule establishes national standards to protect patient health information.
Parent and Family Communication
There may be times when Ole Miss will communicate directly with you:
• Opt-in communication
• Regular, ongoing communication
• Individual communication
• University engagement and support
The following information provides insight regarding those circumstances, including how the university might communicate with parents and family members.
Opt In Communication
- REBALERT is an emergency text message notification service available to UM employees, students, and parents/guardians. These text messages can be received on any cellular device, even cell phones that are not smartphones. To receive REBALERT messages, your student must give you access to a Parent WebID. You can forward this link to your student for access.
- If you sign up for a Parent WebID and REBALERT, you will also receive timely warnings of Clery Act messages. In compliance with the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act (the “Clery Act”), the University of Mississippi issues timely warning notices to alert the campus community of Clery Act crimes that the University determines represent a serious or continuing threat to the campus or the health or safety of students. Examples of emergencies that would warrant such a notification include: an active shooter, a bomb threat, a tornado, a fire, and similar situations involving active threats to our campus.
- Everbridge is a free mobile safety app that the University of Mississippi provides to all students, faculty, staff, parents, alumni, and visitors. This app provides a streamlined way for you to communicate directly with UM safety officials to better protect your student. Everbridge is free and can be downloaded from the Apple App Store or Google Play.
Regular, Ongoing Communication:
- Ole Miss Family Association Press
- This is a free, electronic newsletter published monthly by the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs. This newsletter contains information to help you support your student’s successful transition to college, updates from Student Affairs staff, and University news and events. You are automatically enrolled for this newsletter as a family member of a student who has attended an orientation session. If you do not receive the newsletter, it may be because we do not have an accurate e-mail address for you. Please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to the distribution list.
- Each month, parents and families of freshmen receive an online newsletter through the Ole Miss Family Association (OMFA) from the Center for Student Success and First-Year Experience with important academic information and timely college success tips.
- Serious illness or accident involving your student
- If a student experiences a medical emergency or life-threatening health condition, the University has well-trained, qualified personnel on call to coordinate responses to these situations. The University follows state and federal laws regarding students who are 18 and older. The University relies on the emergency contact information from the student’s enrollment paperwork for communication purposes. Communication is relayed by a staff member at the Student Health Center, University Counseling Center, Dean of Students, or University Police.
- Serious mental health or wellbeing concerns involving your student
- If your student has a serious mental health issue or a serious threat to his or her wellbeing, the University can utilize various interventions based on the needs of the student. Mississippi law prohibits mental health providers from sharing the clinical treatment information of clients who are 18 years of age and older without the written permission of the client/student. This limitation also applies to confirming or denying whether a student has sought care with a University mental health provider. University Counseling Center (UCC) clinicians discuss confidentiality with clients and inform clients of their rights. If a release of information is signed between the client and the UCC clinician for disclosure of information to a third party (including parents), then parents are notified based on the arrangement determined in that release.
- Mental health providers regularly invite students to sign a release so that communication with parents/families can occur as appropriate. In addition, individuals identified as a student’s emergency contact are notified via telephone (or e-mail if we do not have a telephone number for the family) when the provider determines that there is a serious concern for the student’s health and/or safety.
- In some situations where student health and safety are of serious concern, the Behavioral Intervention Team (BIT) may communicate with the emergency contact of a student. This is typically done on a case-by-case basis.
- Missing Person
- UPD will conduct a preliminary investigation to verify the situation and to determine the circumstances that exist relating to the reported missing student. If UPD determines that the student should be considered missing, an officer will contact the Dean of Students, the appropriate outside law enforcement agencies, and, if necessary, the Department of Student Housing to provide the relevant information. The Office of the Dean of Students will relay pertinent information to the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs. If the student is a “residential student” or a “Greek residential student,” the Department of Student Housing or the Office of the Dean of Students (Greek residential student) will conduct a preliminary investigation to verify the situation and to determine the circumstances, which exist relating to the reported missing student. If all of these steps do not provide an opportunity to speak with the missing student or to learn her or his whereabouts, UPD will contact, within 24 hours of the student being reported missing, the designated contact person as outlined above.
- Drug or alcohol incident involving your student
- If the student is under 21 and responsible for an AOD violation, a parental letter will be sent. However, if there are concerns in specific cases that this sanction will not be beneficial to the student, the conduct officer may choose to not enact this sanction. However, the Office of Conflict Resolution and Student Conduct do ask that the conduct officer place a note in the case file.
- In alcohol or drug cases where the student’s long-term health and safety are of concern, the Dean of Students or a member of the Behavioral Intervention Team may also reach out to the student’s emergency contact. This is typically done on a case-by-case basis.
- If your student is a Luckyday scholar, you will receive information based on requests and programming notes via e-mail or telephone call. Parents or guardians of Luckyday Scholars must sign additional paperwork provided by the Luckyday staff. This is only for students receiving the Luckyday Success Scholarship.
- Fraternal Leadership and Learning
- The emergency contact of students participating in the fraternity or sorority recruitment or intake process will receive communication regarding deadlines, frequently asked questions, information on hazing prevention, or other topics via the e-mail provided on the student’s fraternity or sorority recruitment/intake registration paperwork.
University Engagement and Support:
- Fundraising for the Division of Student Affairs
- The University Development Office may call you throughout the year regarding different fundraising campaigns. These calls will originate from a 662 area code and a 915 prefixed phone number. You may also receive direct mail or e-mail campaign requests. University Development collects parent and family information from the Office of the Bursar and follows PCI (Payment Card Industry) compliance methods. PCI is a set of security standards designed to ensure that ALL companies that accept, process, store or transmit credit card information maintain a secure environment.
- The Family Development Officer may also reach out to you via telephone or e-mail to discuss support of the Family Leadership Council.
- Throughout your student’s career at the University, you may also receive communications from University Marketing & Communications or the Office of the Chancellor
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