Bio-demographic Data Use Guidelines

Data collection and reporting processes regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion among Boston University’s students, employees, and alumni are overseen by the university’s Data Governance Program.  When working with these data, please use the following guidelines.

1. Is bio-demographic data necessary for your business process?

While bio-demographic data may be interesting as it relates to your business process, do you need this information to carry out your function?  Collecting and storing individually identifiable, “record level” bio-demographic data creates risk of breach of confidentiality, or risk of error which may cause harm to the constituent (e.g. misgendering).  The safest data is the data that you do not collect/use.  Please consider carefully whether this data is integral to your process, and if you have any questions, please contact

2. Is the data you need already available?

Boston University is committed to providing a seamless data collection experience to members of the community.  To that end, where required data is already collected about our students, employees, or alumni, it should be sourced from the system of record.  A list of the systems of record is available and will be updated as new data elements are collected.  For technical specifications on accessing these data sources, please contact the office listed.

If you are a BU Technology Service Owner, please review BU’s Standard for Storing and Using Name, Sex/Gender, and Pronouns.

3. Can I collect bio-demographic data?

In cases where the data you require is unavailable through central resources, the following guidelines are in place for collecting this information.  As previously noted, please make sure this data is required for your process, that you have the appropriate approvals to collect this information, and that you have reviewed BU’s Data Protection Standards.

As policies or guidance is created around specific data collection efforts, this page will be updated.

4. Do I have permission to use this data?

    BU’s data is among its most valuable resources.  As such, data roles exist to oversee, protect, and optimize the university’s data.  Prior to collecting any information about a particular group of university constituents, please make sure you have contacted the appropriate data trustee, executive, or subject expert for approval.  If you have questions about these data roles or how to proceed with your project, feel free to contact AS&IR at

    5. How can I safely report this data?

    Record-level bio-demographic data (data that is at the level of the individual) is considered confidential.  This data is subject to BU’s Policy for access and use of Bio-demographic Data.

    Additional Resources: