Although the law recognizes the student's right to privacy of his/her educational records, it also recognizes the advisor's right to privileged communications. Thus, in an effort to help a student, advisors can discuss confidential information regarding that student with other appropriate individuals. The courts generally will respect the right to such communications and will not hold the advisor liable for statements considered as privileged communications. This right, however, is not an absolute one, and advisors must exercise good judgment in making all confidential statements. To determine the appropriateness of confidential discussions, an advisor should simply ask if such a discussion would serve the student's best interest.
At times, students will come to advisors with personal problems; normally these problems should remain confidential. In some instances, however, a student may tell the advisor of certain intentions that would prove harmful to the student or possibly to others, such as the intention to commit suicide or the desire to harm another person. Although the statements are made in confidence, an obligation rests with the advisor to disclose such information to an appropriate party, such as parents, an intended victim, professional counselor, or police.