UMass Amherst Commonwealth Honors College

News Office Frequently Asked Questions

Q. How do I reach a news editor after normal work hours?

Normal work hours are weekdays 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time. After hours, call the office's main number (413-545-0444) and a recording will tell you how to contact a news editor.

Q. Where can I park when I visit campus?

Follow signs to the Robsham Memorial Visitors Center or the Campus Center Parking Garage. A modest number of metered spaces are also available throughout campus. Parking in numbered lots is limited to those with permits. Be careful! Parking lots are patrolled, and tickets are issued to those illegally parked.

Q. What services does the Office of News and Media Relations offer the press?

The office works closely with journalists to provide the latest information about faculty and student achievements, the university's programs and policies, and its research accomplishments. If you need facts, figures, background, or a comment on a UMass matter, let us know. Become familiar with our Web site, designed to make a range of university resources easily accessible to reporters and editors.

If you're visiting campus, we'll help you find faculty, students and administrators. We can also assemble a package of background information and photos.

Q. Are faculty available to comment on current events?

If you need an expert to discuss breaking news or to provide insight for a feature or opinion piece, contact our office. We'll draw upon our knowledge of the university's 1,100 full-time faculty to match you with recognized authorities in their fields. We can't always reach specific faculty members, but every effort will be made to connect you with a good source as soon as possible. You can also refer to our Experts at UMass site.

Q. How can I find a phone number or e-mail address for someone on campus?

The People Finder will help you contact students, faculty or staff.

Q. What information can be publicly shared about UMass Amherst employees?

Privacy and confidentiality of employee records are governed by the university's Fair Information Practices Regulations.

Public information can be disseminated without restriction. It includes name, position title, job description, salary, office location and telephone number, and dates of employment at the university. Some research may be required.

Directory information consists of several categories of data that can be restricted upon the request of an employee. It includes home address and telephone number, date and place of birth, education, marital status, and citizenship.

Q. What information can you provide about students?

Federal law limits the information that UMass can provide about students. Under the Federal Educational Rights & Privacy Act, UMass provides student directory information: a student's name, local address, home address, e-mail address, major, local telephone number, date and place of birth, acknowledgement of a student's participation in officially recognized activities and sports, weight and height of members of athletic teams, date(s) of attendance, degrees, certificates, awards received, student employment status, and the most recent previous educational agency or institution attended by the student. The university can make public some or all of this information, unless students specifically request in writing that prior consent be obtained.

Generally, students will extend themselves for visitors to campus, and reporters usually find that many students are willing to discuss any number of contemporary subjects. Student residence halls are private, however. Special arrangements can be made to provide limited tours of residential areas. Please give us advance notice.

Q. What about alumni records?

It is important to understand the distinction between alumni and student records. If the record was made during the student's tenure at the university, it is considered a student record and is governed by the provisions of FERPA as described above. If it was made after the student's disenrollment, it is not considered a student record, and access to it will be governed by campus or university policies.

Q. Do I need permission to shoot pictures on campus?

It depends on whether the images will be used for commercial or non-commercial purposes. (This applies to still photography, film and video.)

For either purpose, the Office of News and Media Relations can identify settings and personal contacts. Let us know in advance what you want to accomplish, and we can discuss options and make arrangements.

Most photography on campus is non-commercial, i.e. done for personal, artistic or editorial purposes. Because UMass is a public university, news photographers do not need permission to visit the campus grounds or to attend public events in university buildings. However, you must request permission to photograph inside lecture halls, seminar rooms, classrooms, offices and other facilities in which academic and administrative business takes place. Faculty, staff, students and visitors have the right to conduct their affairs without distraction and interference. It's especially important to understand that all residence halls are private facilities.

Commercial film and photo shoots require the permission of the university. You must work directly with the Office of News and Media Relations and sign a university release form. In addition, you may need to get signed releases from individuals involved in the shoot.

UMass Amherst has the right to approve or deny all plans to shoot images on campus for commercial purposes. If approval is given, it is the responsibility of each photographer and his employer to determine whether individual model releases are required and to secure the appropriate, signed approvals.

Q. Can I use the resources of the campus libraries?

Yes, the campus libraries are accessible to all, and residents of Massachusetts have borrowing privileges. Library hours can be heard at 413-545-0414, and the Reference Desk can be reached at 413-545-0150.

Q. How do I find historical information about the Amherst campus?

Special Collections and University Archives, part of the UMass Amherst Libraries, offer a rich source of photos and documents about the University.