My letter writer is letting me read a confidential letter

Tabeeb12

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My letter writer wants to give me a copy of his letter (he has already submitted it). Because he is giving me permission to read it even though I told him I waived my "right" to read it, at this point does it become permissible to read? (since technically someone can do something despite not having the "right" to do it. In other words, because it was no longer my right to read it, I could not demand the professor to let me read it; rather it is now the letter writer's choice if he/she lets me read it...)

The reason I ask is because I have heard of quite a few applicants who say they have read their confidential letters because their letter writer willingly gave them a copy of the letter post-submission. When I heard that, I judged it as unethical on the part of the applicant, but I want to first inquire about the nature of the wording of that rule and what exactly it is stipulating. This is important to me because this can help me choose between two letters (I can't use both).

Thanks
 

Mattabet

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It's a little bit of an ethical grey area, but I agree with your initial assessment. You freely gave up your right to read the letter, understanding that, the writer gave you the letter to read anyway. I feel the waiver is a safeguard for the writer to 'speak freely'. As long as he understood that he didn't have to show you the letter, you're okay to read it now that he's given it to you.

On the plus side, in cases like this it really doesn't matter if you read it or not. Nobody would give over anything but a good letter, so just the fact that he was willing to show it to you probably means it's pretty solid.
 

redrower

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this doesnt mean you cant read it if your letter writer is okay with you reading it. i would say its fine for you to do so.

EDIT: what ^he said :p
 

BlueElmo

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As long as the letter writer gave you the letter to read, I don't think there's any problem.
 

not respect

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It is definitely okay to read, people do this all the time (not for me unfortunately though)
 

red10

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The reason some writers (and schools) like confidential letters is because the writer knows that a) you trust them to write the letter and b) if they don't think you'd be a good doc, they can say so.

If he offers, have at it. I know I would.

BTW anyone know why on some applications (maybe it was UIC?) they ask about waiving your rights to your letters? I already waived them when I submitted them to my college's letter collecting service. Would I have been able to get access to them from the school at some point if I hadn't waived my rights?
 

nick_carraway

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The waivers are typically regarding the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 which gives you the right to examine your academic record held by a school at which you matriculated.

Signing the waiver means that you cannot exercise your right to view those documents. It does NOT mean you cannot read those letters. There is no ethical dilemma in this case.
 

TooMuchResearch

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The waivers are typically regarding the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 which gives you the right to examine your academic record held by a school at which you matriculated.

Signing the waiver means that you cannot exercise your right to view those documents. It does NOT mean you cannot read those letters. There is no ethical dilemma in this case.
Agreed.
 

Longshanks

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I recently had a letter writer offer to send me a copy of the LOR she submitted. I told her there was no need to, since I waived it and its supposed be confidential. Was that wrong? Not sure if that was a faux pas but I didn't want my advisor later to dismiss it since it wasn't a closed evaluation of me if she told him that I was getting a copy.
 

Captain Fantastic

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The waivers are typically regarding the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 which gives you the right to examine your academic record held by a school at which you matriculated.

Signing the waiver means that you cannot exercise your right to view those documents. It does NOT mean you cannot read those letters. There is no ethical dilemma in this case.
Exactly. The waiver restricts you and what you can expect per FERPA. It does not restrict the writer. Read away without guilt.
 

Pills Of Soap

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the waiver waives your right to REQUEST access to the letter. so u can read anything given to you
 
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Technically you have the right to read a letter of recommendation. When you waive this right, then you give up the ability to force your writer (by law) to allow you to read the letter. But if your writer gives it to you freely, then this waiver doesn't apply.

If I waive my right to free speech, I can still get up in the middle of the street and start proclaiming my views, but if a cop comes by and tells me to shutup, I have to be quiet (since I've waived my right to free speech... in any other case I wouldn't have to listen to the cop). But if no one has a problem with me, I can go on talking.
 

apumic

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2nding what others have said. All you gave up was your FERPA right to view everything in your academic file (including LORs). A letter-writer is always allowed to show you the letter regardless of what you signed away. The idea behind signing away your right is simply to allow your recommendation writer to speak more freely.
 

apumic

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2nding what others have said. All you gave up was your FERPA right to view everything in your academic file (including LORs). A letter-writer is always allowed to show you the letter regardless of what you signed away. The idea behind signing away your right is simply to allow your recommendation writer to speak more freely.
 
OP
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Tabeeb12

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Thanks everyone for your responses. The consensus seems to be that I can indeed read the letter if my letter writer lets me.