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Snitch Culture is Haunting Campuses in 2020

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College campuses can be spooky places. Freedom of speech and freedom of assembly are attacked by the very people that are supposed to be educating students and fostering a culture of free-thinking, while the lies of socialism are pushed on students from every side.

With COVID-19, something new is haunting campuses – and this is no friendly ghost; it’s snitch culture.

We all care about safety, but when you start asking people to embrace turning in their peers for breaking the rules, you end up with something very different. You end up with a powerful group in charge who rules everyone else with fear. When you support Students For Liberty, you stand up against this dangerous culture.

With suspensions and expulsions on the line, and tuition forfeited in either case, the price is high for any student who speaks out against the rules. Our students are nervous. Here are a few examples they shared with us:

  • Vanderbilt University: administrators are instructing students not to leave Nashville or risk expulsion. Virtual events are allowed, but in-person events of any size are banned.
  • Tulane University: Like Vanderbilt, these students have been told not to leave the city (New Orleans, in this case), and are not allowed to gather.
  • University of Connecticut: University police are regularly checking bars and urging students to return to campus. 
  • University of Iowa: University police are “ticketing” people for not following university guidelines, even when they are off campus. The ticket is a referral to the Office of Student Conduct, where they may face suspension.

Some of our leaders are meeting in apartments and houses unofficially to avoid scrutiny, but that still carries risk. Students are even afraid to meet secretly because, if they are reported by neighbors, they will be suspended and forfeit their tuition. With snitching actively encouraged, this could very easily happen.

We shouldn’t take virtual events for granted, either. At some universities, students must request approval for virtual events five weeks in advance so that the university may review safety protocols with them. If they are caught holding an event online without permission, administration has communicated that students will be suspended or expelled.

This is what’s being pushed on campus in the name of health. Colleges are seeking out rule-breakers and asking students to report their peers if they see an infraction – thus nurturing a snitch culture which is anything but healthy. Here’s how students are being affected:

  • Cornell University: Students saw on social media that peers were having a party and circulated a petition to have the party-goers expelled. 3,500 students signed.
  • University of Missouri: Nearly 500 students have been turned in by other students to the Office of Student Conduct and Accountability. Two students have been expelled and another three were suspended for failing to follow social distancing guidelines. 
  • Syracuse University: Syracuse is punishing students who gathered before the start of the semester, but they are using security footage and witness statements from other students to do it. 23 students have been suspended for gathering outdoors.
  • Aside from having students turn each other in, universities are also checking local hotels for gatherings, expelling and suspending students for attending events before the semester began, and will have police disperse gatherings of any size before referring them to the university to be considered for further discipline.

We know that, when you attend an institution, you agree to abide by their rules. We also know that health matters, and true liberty doesn’t mean we can put each other at risk. Consider what the risk is when you teach young people to snitch on each other. What happens when students become afraid to speak out because they risk losing tens of thousands of dollars?

Power, once taken, is rarely yielded. Once young people start to believe that turning in their neighbors is the best way to keep society safe, it is hard for them to do otherwise. That’s why pro-liberty voices are so important on campus.

This lack of freedom is haunting students, and Students For Liberty are the ghostbusters they need. Thank you for being part of the team.

If you’d like to make a donation to Students For Liberty and empower students to stand up for free speech, please click on the link below.


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