By the time people leave college, they will be so used to being watched they won’t mind at all when the government continues to do so. From Michael Tracey at mtracey.substack.com:
Having now received a tsunami of messages from people across the US (and a few internationally) about the surveillance regimes being permanently installed at their educational institutions — in contravention of earlier assurances that the current academic year would mark a long-awaited “return to normalcy,” thanks to the onset of mass vaccination — there are a few conclusions to draw.
First: unless and until COVID “cases” are abandoned as a metric by which policy action is presumptively dictated, these institutions are destined to continue flailing from irrational measure to irrational measure for the foreseeable future. Just turn your gaze over to one of America’s most hallowed pedagogical grounds: As of September 17, Columbia University has newly forbidden students from hosting guests, visiting residence halls other than their own, and gathering with more than ten people. The stated rationale for these restrictions? Administrators have extrapolated from the “contact tracing” data they’ve compulsorily seized that a recent increase in viral transmission is attributable to “students socializing unmasked at gatherings in residence halls and at off-campus apartments, bars, and restaurants.” (Socializing at apartments, bars, and restaurants in the middle of Manhattan — gee, I can’t imagine anything more heinous.)
Just like Connecticut College and so many other institutions I’ve been taking flurries of messages about, Columbia has already mandated vaccination for all students, faculty, and staff, and is approaching 100% compliance. But as has now been made abundantly clear, for many people in positions of bureaucratic authority, universal vaccination was never going to be sufficient for a transition away from the “Permanent Emergency” mode of COVID exegetical theology. The perverse incentives are easy to grasp. These administrators have so much invested in the infrastructure of “case” detection they’ve constructed over the past year and a half — not to mention the wider ideological project of “stopping the spread” at all costs — that it’s impossible to imagine conditions under which they’d voluntarily move to dismantle the surveillance systems over which they preside. And not just because the new powers conferred by this infrastructure — the ability to micromanage the private lives of young adults, track and adjudicate the propriety of their movements, etc. — is probably creepily intoxicating on a level these administrators may not be overtly conscious of, and in any event would almost certainly never publicly admit.