A stringent blind faith in Yale’s Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) measures and an enforcement system that turns anonymous reports from other students into concrete disciplinary action fosters a culture of absolute compliance and has turned the institution into a surveillance state, say students.
“At first, some students said they accepted Yale’s surveillance system out of genuine fear and uncertainty,” wrote Washington Free Beacon author Aaron Sibarium in a Jan. 27 article. “But what were pitched as temporary stop gaps soon ossified into a seemingly permanent regime—one with very little transparency or due process.”
While the article cites many examples, the most poignant is the story of an anonymous senior who made the mistake of removing his mask in an otherwise deserted library at 9:30 p.m. on a Saturday night to watch a movie.
“According to the Yale senior, another student walked into the library and demanded he mask up. Since he didn’t have one on him, the senior said he would leave. As he was gathering his belongings, the other student pulled out her phone and began filming him. When the senior asked for her name, the student raised her middle finger and stormed off,” summarized the article.
The incident occurred on Dec. 4, 2021, the same day as Yale held a pair of dinner parties for thousands of maskless students, contrasted against masked servants and and a masked marching band, according to videos of the event.
By Dec. 6, the senior was emailed formal notice of a disciplinary action on letterhead from Yale’s Office of the Dean, stating that the “Compact Review Committee (CRC) is reviewing a report that your conduct failed to meet the commitments you agreed to in the Yale Community Compact.”
The Compact is a set of centrally administered policies and edicts that permeate all aspects of students’ on and off-campus life. Yale’s class members are required to sign, and are expected to adhere to mandated edicts such as unequivocal acceptance of COVID-19 vaccination, booster vaccination, and influenza vaccination.
Additionally, the Compact requires students to sign off on participating in the institution’s COVID testing and contact tracing program, isolation and quarantine regimen, and social distancing and masking policies.
The letter gave the student 24 hours “to provide the CRC with any relevant information you would like the Committee to consider in its evaluation.”
He was put on notice that he must reveal even his thinking to the central disciplinary committee when it stated, “Please note that you must be honest in your interactions with the CRC and that failure to do so could lead to disciplinary action with the Yale College Executive Committee.”
The senior was also threatened that he may be sequestered to his dorm room for an arbitrary quarantine during the duration of the CRC’s evaluation, which the Free Beacon described as “a process that can take weeks.”
Two weeks later on Dec. 20, the CRC informed the student of its position that “your conduct failed to meet the commitments you agreed to in the Yale Community Compact.”
An “administrative warning” was levied against the senior, alleging his “conduct posed a risk to the health and safety of yourself or other community members.”
“Should you continue to engage in behavior that violates the Yale Community Compact, you will be placed on Public Health Warning and may face more serious outcomes, including the removal of permission to be on campus.”
“Please note there is no appeal from a CRC decision,” added the notice.
And the Compact Review Committee is at the heart of the state of affairs on Yale’s campus, according to the Beacon, which it describes as “a small group of university administrators who review reports and mete out punishments at their discretion.”
“The most striking thing about it, many students said, is how opaque it is compared with Yale’s normal disciplinary apparatus.”
The Free Beacon continued, “Since its inception in the fall of 2020, the committee has not published guidelines on which offenses merit which sanctions. It does not tell students who reported them, nor does it give accused students an opportunity to question their accuser—protections that are enshrined in the university’s Title IX procedures.”
In summarizing interviews with other Yale students, Sibarium said that the CRC system “has had a chilling effect on student life.”
“Undergrads have taken to reporting not only what they see around campus, but also on social media,” the author continued. “In early 2021, one student was anonymously reported after posting on Instagram about dining outside at a New Haven restaurant, a violation of the university’s ban on off-campus dining. The student took his significant other to the restaurant 12 hours before the ban expired, figuring it would be close enough.”
“It was not. The student was notified of an anonymous complaint based on his social media post and given 24 hours to send the administration a statement explaining why he had been huddled under an outdoor heat lamp at a sparsely populated bar.”
Sibarium stated, based on a review of emails between the students and Yale authorities, that the student was subjected to a policy assimilation session with a “Public Health Advisor.”
The student said the administrator told him during the meeting that his infraction, however, was not “a big deal.”
Another student, Jack Barker, a senior, described an instance in the fall of 2020 when a group of graduate students armed with cell phones recording video, sieged the dorm room of a friend while he was visiting.
The grads, who had been deputized as “public health coordinators” by the university, conducted, “a head count to ensure that the hangout did not violate the university’s capacity limits,” and “chided the students for not wearing their masks,” all on camera.
Barker told the Beacon, “I have no understanding of how the punishments work…It’s like we’re being hazed by Yale.”
In further comments, Barker told the outlet that as time went on, “the surveillance came less from the administration than from other students.”
In one example, Barker was playing football outside without a mask and was recorded by another student. In a second, he dared to walk outside on campus maskless when he was recorded by a student from a dorm window.