About 1,000 students are due to get a rare glimpse into the inner workings of the Stanford University's admissions office after requesting that the university release their admission records under the federal Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which among other rights, grants students access to their education records.
The Fountain Hopper, a sometimes satirical student-run email newsletter that one of its creators describes as "an irreverent take on campus news," sent a message to its subscribers on Thursday, Jan. 15, urging them to submit such requests with step-by-step instructions on how to do so.
"Below is The Fountain Hopper's tried and tested Five Step Plan™ for getting hold of your admissions records, including qualitative and quantitative reviews by your admissions readers," the message read.
Under FERPA, the university must provide these documents within 45 days of receiving a written request.
The student, one of about 20 involved with the Fountain Hopper and who wishes to remain anonymous, estimated that about 1,000 students have since submitted requests. He said about 80 percent of Stanford's undergraduate population subscribes to the Fountain Hopper, which is also referred to as "FoHo."
University spokeswoman Lisa Lapin said Saturday she did not know the number of requests that had been submitted since Thursday, but that there was an increase on Friday.
"I could not speak about the Fountain Hopper in conjunction with this effort," she wrote in an email. "They have simply shared a 40-year-old federal policy."
The student said he and others who are involved with the publication started looking into FERPA in the fall and did a test run in October. One contributor submitted a "catch-all" request to the university, who "sat on it for 43 days" but within the required time limit provided about 800 "sides" of documents including admissions records, submitted assignments, advisor documents and housing information, the student said.
"The philosophy we approach this with is that if you go to a good private (high) school or your parents are rich enough to have college counselors or college consultants, these are people that work inside admission offices," he said. "When they review applications for all the students before they apply, they know exactly what to look for."
But students who come from a more disadvantaged background or attend a school with less resources, he said, don't have that same leg-up.
"College admission is really important. … to be able to succeed in the world that we are in," he said. "We believe in the admission process, but everyone should have an equal right to the information that happens inside that black box."
FoHo is asking that all students who submit FERPA requests report back to them on how the university responds and what documents they eventually receive.
"When people start getting stuff back, we'll push a full demystification of the numbers and jargon in the documents," the Jan. 15 email reads.