Investigation underway following data leak


Kimberly Morales

The exposure of sensitive information that was provided when requesting a religious exemption from COVID-19 has lead to investigations by the University and campus police. Sept. 3, 2021.

Campus police are conducting an investigation into a data leak that revealed the personal information of roughly 130 students requesting a religious exemption from the COVID-19 vaccine. 

On the first day of fall semester, the Sacramento Bee informed Chico State that it had received an anonymous email containing, “a list of Chico State students’ requests for religious exemption from the COVID-19 vaccine mandate,” according to an Aug. 25 Chico State announcement.

“Over the course of the next two days, we had a very good lead,” said Andy Miller, Chico State’s acting vice provost for information resources and chief information officer. “We felt like we had a good idea about what had occurred.” 

The university refused to comment on whether the source of the leak was internal or external due to the ongoing nature of the investigation. 

“The data that was exposed to a public that was posted online definitely is not in line with university policy training procedure,” Miller said.

The information leak is a violation of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which prevents institutions from releasing student educational records without written consent.

“This is clearly above and beyond what anyone would consider a reasonable disclosure of student information,” University Registrar Michael Dills-Allen said. 

“About 25-30 students provided their names and contact information in the ‘please describe the basis’ field of the list, and that information was published,” Miller said in the emailed announcement.

Currently, zero complaints have been filed against Chico State under FERPA at this time.

Kimberly Morales can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @kimberlymnews.