Do you ever wonder why you receive advertisements from student housing companies like The Hub even though you have never lived there? If you didn’t already know, student housing companies have your address — and the permanent and mailing addresses of over 21,000 other University of Oregon students — and UO is the one giving it to them.
All UO students’ names, majors, telephone numbers, and permanent and mailing addresses are classified as directory information, which can be obtained by anyone who makes a public records request to the university.
Although anyone can request the directory information, there is a fee for the labor that comes with retrieving the records. In order to see what information could be provided, the Emerald put in a broad public records request for “any and all directory information of currently enrolled students.”
When the Emerald received a receipt for its records request, the fee for the available directory information of over 21,000 students was $47.19. The Emerald did not proceed with the request.
The definition of directory information used in the request came from the Code of Federal Regulations, which defines directory information as:
“students’ names; address; telephone listing; electronic mail address; photograph; date and place of birth; major field of study; grade level; enrollment status (e.g., undergraduate or graduate, full-time or part-time); dates of attendance; participation in officially recognized activities and sports; weight and height of members of athletic teams; degrees, honors, and awards received; and the most recent educational agency or institution attended.”
The Office of Public Records told the Emerald that the photograph, date and place of birth and most recent institution were not UO directory information and would not be provided. Student email addresses are also exempt from disclosure under Oregon law.
While writing this story, the Emerald contacted people who requested students’ directory information in an attempt to figure out what they used it for.
One of the individuals who requested the directory information, Ashley Cissna, works at The Hub and paid $27.36 for students’ directory information.
The Emerald reached out to Cissna several times seeking to clarify why she requested the information and what her intentions were. After attempting to talk to Cissna in person, the Emerald was referred to the corporate offices of American Campus Communities, the parent company of The Hub and 2125 Franklin.
Gina Cowart, The Hub’s media relations spokeswoman, said that The Hub “is being rebranded as The 515” and that “the contact list will be used in the communication campaign announcing the name change and new website.”
Despite The Hub’s effort to promote their rebranding to UO students, many of those who receive their advertisements are doubting the effectiveness of the marketing campaign.
Cyndi Dose lives in Illinois, but her son is a sophomore at the UO. Despite her son not living in The Hub or 2125 Franklin, Dose said that she received two advertisements this year and at least three last year from both apartment complexes.
“I understand that they want to advertise and that is fair enough,” Dose said. “Feel free to reach out to my child, but these postcards reached out to him 2,000 miles from where he is.”
Dose said that she doesn’t think students are the intended targets of The Hub’s marketing; it’s their parents.
“The parents see what is available and the cost. They want their child to be safe and comfortable while they are away from home and working so hard to learn,” Dose said.
She also said that paying out-of-state tuition is expensive and student housing like The Hub can be costly.
“I know how much the great apartments cost when I went to school. I also know that if you picked up the local school paper or the community paper, you could easily find housing for about 25 percent less,” Dose said. “I felt as though someone was trying to manipulate me when I saw those in the mail.”
The Hub is not the only place requesting students’ directory information. Rent College Pads, a national property listing site which hosts dozens of properties in the Eugene area, requested the same data from UO.
The Emerald attempted to contact the requestor, Callie Kollenbroich, on six separate occasions seeking to clarify the purpose of her records request, but received no reply. According to its website, Rent College Pads helps landlords attract college students to their properties by “offering a targeted, in-depth marketing approach that hits college students everywhere they are.”
UO students wishing to restrict the disclosure of their directory information can file a completed Restriction of Directory Information form with the Office of the Registrar. The form is available from the Office of the Registrar, located in 220 Oregon Hall. Students can also edit the information which appears in the UO Online Directory by logging into DuckWeb and selecting the “personal information” section.
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