Student claims rights violated by use of Social Security numbers

LAS VEGAS - A student claims her rights are being violated by the Community College of Southern Nevada's use of her Social Security number.

Natalie Durante, a 25-year-old student at the college, cited inconveniences she has faced in having to block the school from using her Social Security number in a class-action suit filed in federal court earlier this month.

It is common practice at Nevada colleges and universities to ask students to disclose Social Security numbers on applications and other forms, including answer sheets for tests in some cases. College staff members routinely use student Social Security numbers when handling everyday inquiries on their office computers.

''It's a matter of privacy,'' Durante said. ''I'm afraid the Social Security number one day will be linked to everything -- school records, medical records, everything. I want to stop it before it goes out of control. I want to keep my information private.''

Few students question whether they must disclose their Social Security numbers on college forms, and fewer insist on keeping such information out of the hands of higher-education officials.

At Durante's request, the community college stopped using her Social Security number and assigned her a new student identification number months ago. The school's popular telephone registration system, which also allows students to get grades and account balances, remains inaccessible to her because it currently recognizes only Social Security numbers.

University system attorney Karl Armstrong said Durante can register by the Internet and can handle other options in person. He said the college is under on obligation to reconfigure the system for her convenience.

Durante's suit seeks a permanent injunction that would force the college to let students know whether disclosing their Social Security numbers is mandatory.


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