Letter to the Editor | Coronavirus countermeasures overstep
September 8, 2020
These are — without question — unprecedented times, and the University is understandably concerned.
Wednesday, Chancellor Robert Jones sent out an email. In that email, he decried the acts of some Illinois students who chose to break quarantine and social gathering rules, and he lamented that the acts of a few could result in the ending of in-person classes for all.
Surely, he is right to lament this situation, but his email takes an odd turn: He asks the University community to “document the evidence (of non-compliance)” and submit it to an online form. The Chancellor of our university asked us to spy on our peers. Instead of fostering a sense of responsibility and community, this Orwellian request only sows paranoia and distrust.
Who will be safe from this investigative form? We already know that students will be disciplined for exercising their rights. The Chancellor himself said so in the same email: “A student who posted a video on social media attempting to show people how to circumvent the Safer Illinois app is facing discipline.” It doesn’t take a First Amendment scholar to see how this choice could snowball into a lawsuit, but I digress. To be sure, to post such a video or to violate rules against group-gathering is irresponsible and potentially dangerous and should be investigated. But to recruit the student body to act as a mini-FSB? It seems a questionable choice.
We can all agree that frat parties are a bad idea. But this form opens the floodgates of uncertainty. Should a student protesting the Safer Illinois app on account of privacy be punished? How about a group of four, healthy friends playing catch on the quad? Let’s not encourage paranoia within our student body. Let’s stay safe, stay personally responsible and stay off of the Chancellor’s generously offered form.
Joe is a senior studying English in LAS.