COVID COPS? The most extreme campus coronavirus policies in 2020

Many universities took coronavirus response to an extreme level this year.

Efforts involved physically tracking students, and forcing them to report each other for incompliance.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has required that all Americans make certain adjustments, but some colleges and universities instituted exceptionally extreme policies. Take a look at some of the most extreme cases of COVID-19 restrictions from America’s college campuses.

1. Universities ask students to play ‘coronavirus police,’ report peers who might have COVID-19

As colleges were beginning to reopen in the fall, some schools asked students to report their peers that did not follow guidelines.

Universities such as the University of Miami, Texas A&M University, Tulane University, Yale, Columbia University, University of Denver, and the University of North Georgia, have asked s to keep tabs on what their peers are doing outside of the classroom. 

Some schools requested that students report their peers via online portals, while others went as far as to create special positions for students who agreed to advise and enforce coronavirus policies.

2. Gaming the system? Ivy league students capitalize on lax coronavirus grading

Like many schools, Dartmouth College announced its plan to adopt a Credit/No Credit or a pass/no pass grading system after the outbreak. some Ivy league students took advantage of the new laxed grading system.

While most Dartmouth students typically enroll in three courses, 63 percent enrolled in a fourth course after the implementation of this rule. 

“The pass/fail grading system definitely motivated people to take four classes,” Carlos Wilcox, a student at Dartmouth College, told Campus Reform. “While I couldn’t imagine doing the workload of four classes on campus, I am taking four online.” 

3. UNC alters admissions requirements for THREE years in response to coronavirus

The UNC System Governing Board approved a new admission plan that will remain for another three years as a result of COVID-19. The plan states that the minimum admissions requirements creates an “either-or” situation, which prospective students need either a 2.5 high school GPA or a 17 or more on the ACT (or the SAT equivalent,) but only one of these must meet the minimum requirements to be admitted. Previously both had been required.

“Many North Carolina high school students take their standardized testing for the first time in their junior year and then for the second time in the spring of their senior year. By taking this second test, they are able to improve their scores… However, as the coronavirus canceled the SATs and ACTs for the spring, high school seniors are at a disadvantage.” said UNC-System spokesperson Jason Tyson. 

These new standards also were enacted by three state schools: Elizabeth City State University, Fayetteville State University, and North Carolina Central University.

4. Harvard plans to track students’ WiFi signals for coronavirus contact tracing

Harvard University developed an application called TraceFi, which would collect a datetime stamp in order to aid in coronavirus contact tracing during the fall semester. “If someone does not want to be noticed at all, he can turn off Wi-Fi service for his device.” This however, would leave students without WiFi access.

“Harvard’s TraceFi appears to be the introduction of powerful new location surveillance for everyone on their campus. As we’ve written, location-based tracking is both highly invasive and is unlikely to be accurate enough to assist contact tracers in stopping the spread of COVID-19. Students should not be asked to sacrifice their privacy to use this technology.” Electronic Frontier Foundation Senior Staff Attorney Andrew Crocker told Campus Reform.

5. U Denver initiates location ‘tracking’ as part of COVID-19 response, team to ‘impose’ quarantine

University of Denver students were told they would be kicked off campus should they not comply with the university’s program requiring both twice-daily symptom reporting and location tracking via a mobile device app. 

The university stated “Data is stored securely and only temporarily, and location information is only accessed when someone is confirmed or expected positive for the virus that causes COVID-19.”  and that location tracking can be turned off, “though this is not recommended.”

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