steampunk heart

US universities are asking students to report anyone not following Covid guidelines

Several universities in the US have set up systems so students can report on each other if they see anyone breaking the Covid ‘rules’.

Campus Reform notes that universities in Miami, Texas, and New Orleans have all encouraged students to play campus STASI when it comes to the Covid guidelines.

Yale has also got in on the act with a hotline, along with The University of North Georgia, whose plea for students to police each other prompted the Southeastern Legal Foundation to pen a letter warning that the system may violate students’ privacy and freedom of speech.

“Colleges have a duty to protect student health and safety, especially during uncertain times like these. However, even in unprecedented times, students’ First Amendment rights remain unchanged. That means colleges and universities cannot engage in viewpoint or content-based discrimination, cannot enact vague and overbroad policies, and cannot chill student expression,” the letter urges.

It continues, “With a Concern Form at students’ fingertips, students wishing to prevent a controversial speaker from visiting campus or to stop a student organization from garnering interest in their cause can simply report members of that organization as symptomatic.

Without stricter reporting guidelines and limits, it appears that such events could be shut down entirely with the press of a button.

This may sound unlikely, but then again, who would have predicted 2020 to turn out as it has?”

The SLF also warned that Fourth Amendment rights may be under threat as students could be forced to get tested for COVID-19, without probable cause.

“Under the Fourth Amendment, individuals cannot be subject to unreasonable searches and seizures. The Supreme Court has even considered that right in the context of cheek swabs. The Court has held that a criminal arrested and charged with a serious crime can be subjected to a DNA cheek swab, so long as the charges are supported by probable cause, meaning there must be sufficient likelihood that the crime occurred. However, a swab is unconstitutional if there is no probable cause, the charge is not criminal, or if the DNA is used to gather medical information about the criminal,” SLF asserted.

“Will UNG, upon receiving a report of a symptomatic student, subject that student to an invasive COVID-19 swab? Surely the university understands that this action would violate the Fourth Amendment,” the SLF further explains.

In a recent opinion piece published in the New York Times, Karen Levy, an assistant professor at Cornell University and Lauren Kilgour, a doctoral candidate at Cornell warned that universities should avoid turning students into spies, warning that while some “may feel a sense of civic duty… others may be loath to report on their friends.”

“People report on one another (truthfully or falsely) for a number of personal reasons, including competition, revenge, leverage and everyday aggravations,” the piece also notes.

“There’s every reason to assume that these motivations will bubble up in the college context, too. Students have their own loyalties, broken hearts, rocky roommate relationships and fraternity codes of silence,” Levy and Kilgour note.

Source: Steve Watson – SUMMIT NEWS