Students describe life on campus under 'health surveillance'

Campus Reform spoke with students in California and New York who detailed their experiences on campus during the pandemic.

The students criticized many restrictions including online instruction and mandatory masking.

This month, college students across America are experiencing reversions to online learning and COVID-19 vaccine or booster mandates. But they are also dealing with surveillance testing and systems in place on campus.

Campus Reform spoke to a number of students about their school’s COVID restrictions and health surveillance measures.

Daniel Cona, a junior at College at Brockport, State University of New York (SUNY Brockport) told Campus Reform, ”Having to submit proof of my vaccinations to Brockport feels like an invasion of my privacy.”

Michael Gannon, who attends Stony Brook University, which is part of the SUNY system, said he has “considered dropping out so I don’t have to inject myself with drugs that I don’t want in my body.”

”It’s awful to be ostracized at school for refusing to comply with the mask policy,” Gannon said.

Similarly, Cona added that the masking requirement has affected his grades because wearing the item interferes with his ADHD and ability to concentrate. 

[RELATED: Surveillance on campus: Universities give students tools to report on each other’s COVID violations or ‘bias incidents’]

The State University of New York (SUNY) system uses a COVID-19 Case Tracker that includes a public dashboard interface, which displays “data on COVID-19 testing and other vital information at each of our 64 colleges and universities.” 

According to the website, “The data can be viewed on a system-wide or campus by campus level.”

”I don’t have a problem with vaccines, but I don’t want to be told which ones I have to get against my will,” Cona added. “Being told to get the vaccine or don’t go to our publicly funded school doesn’t seem like much of a choice.”

Cona is also frustrated with how SUNY Brockport has announced its policy updates to students.

”Earlier they sent many emails saying if you get the vaccine you won’t have to wear a mask. A week or so before classes started they said, just kidding you still have to wear a mask,” Cona stated.

Oakland University employs a more extensive, five-page COVID-19 dashboard. On this website, the public can view vaccine mandate compliance rates for full-time students, faculty, and staff. 

Additionally, student vaccination and exemption rates, as well as weekly positive cases, are also available. 

The Michigan university also reports daily health assessments for faculty, guests, staff, and students. 

The university posts this information on the website’s “Health Surveillance” section, which also states the number of residential students currently in isolation or quarantine, as well as the percentage of positive COVID tests in the surrounding community. 

At the California State University-Fullerton, “Weekly COVID-19 surveillance testing is required for all students and faculty with exemptions,” according to the school’s website

Fullerton is an approximately one-hour drive from Los Angeles, where students are experiencing strict regulations. 

[RELATED: With 91% employee vaccination rate, UNCW continues mask mandate, ‘surveillance testing’]

”Los Angeles college students are suffering the repercussions of government overreach and authoritarian academic policy,” Michaela Moriarty, Turning Point USA’s Hollywood field representative, told Campus Reform.

”Students are again asked to adhere to a moving definition,” Moriarty said, referring to recent restrictions mandating temporary online instruction and masking requirements. “A lack of compliance with the restrictions could lead to the end of their academic careers.”

Mark Huber, a Turning Point USA member and student at The King’s College, described students’ experience attending the New York City school. 

This is medical apartheid,” Huber said. ”New York students are being kicked out of school simply because they chose not to get the COVID vaccine. They’re not allowed to eat inside a restaurant due to the COVID policies in the city.” 

Campus Reform reached out to SUNY-Brockport, Oakland University, and California State University-Fullerton for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.