My Welcome to College Park

So, the second piece of correspondence coming my direction from the College Park area behind the admissions letter notifying my acceptance to grad school was a letter from the “Graduate Hils & Graduate Gardens Apartment Homes” at 3424 Tulane Drive in nearby Hyattsville, Maryland. The letter congratulated me on my admissions to the university urging me to submit an application and “$100 holding charge to obtain a position on the waitlist” for a shot at living in Maryland’s “only graduate housing community.” The letter also contained a copy of a letter they apparently received from University of Maryland Assistant Dean John M. Mollish providing them with my name and address and urging them to assist me to “move expeditiously through your application process for off-campus housing.”

I’m not sure where to start with this one. First, are the names of students at public universities public? Second, if they are, are their home addresses? And third, if those are as well, why does the university choose to send private companies my name with such panache? Perhaps they think they’re doing out-of-town students a favor. The irony in all this is that I’ve been riding the bus past the rather banal apartment complex for months now on the R3 to the National Archives’ College Park facility.

Author: Rob Goodspeed


  1. Rob,

    Yes, the names of students are public records, and the names themselves are not protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, which contains an exemption for “directory information.” I believe that law allows you to “opt-out” of address disclosure, but its’ probably too late for that anyway, and you’re already on any number of marketing lists.

    I suspect UMD gets paid for prompt release of your information, as a kickback essentially. I suspect the “letter” the Dean sent them wasn’t exactly the version they copied you – it ‘s probably a marketing gimmick, and they probably received it in digital form with hundreds of names.

    Even if you shut off the list-brokers from this source of information about your address, they’ll get it other ways. And many students will probably find the service valuable. File 13 is always there, and, unlike e-spam, there is enough of a cost to mail to dissuade infinite mail spam.

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