The Coronavirus pandemic is creating a snitch culture on some college campuses. It’s sad.

The Washington Post reports:

Cornell students petition to have freshman TikTok star expelled for flouting coronavirus rules

Colleges have been threatening students with stiff penalties for failing to practice social distancing and wear masks, blasting “selfish and reckless” behavior and issuing hundreds of suspensions.

At Cornell University, however, it’s the students who are becoming the most vocal enforcers of coronavirus-era rules.

“Jessica Zhang has shown that she does not care to comply to public safety measures and wants to put other citizens at risk for the sake of her own entertainment,” reads an online petition from a “Concerned Student Coalition” that had gathered nearly 2,000 signatures by Wednesday night. It says Zhang — a freshman who happens to be a TikTok star with more than half a million followers — should be expelled for flouting coronavirus precautions while partying.

“Some students don’t have the luxury of going home to a quiet and healthy environment to focus on academics,” the petition warns. “Do not ruin it for everyone else.”

Students are returning this month to campuses where they are expected to help police their peers and where a few people’s misbehavior could get everyone sent home. Skeptics doubt young people’s willingness to keep each other in line, given college’s social pressures: “the people who slide up saying ‘you’re not social distancing’ are the ones that wouldn’t have been invited anyway,” read the Snapchat post that kicked off a backlash against Zhang.

The fallout at Cornell made it clear, though, that some students have embraced their role as the first line of defense against the novel coronavirus, even as other community members wonder how much a freshman navigating an unprecedented college experience can really be held culpable.

“The people who you wouldn’t expect to snitch will snitch,” said Milan Broughton, a freshman at Cornell who signed the petition. “It’s kind of the culture that we need to have around. You need to hold everyone accountable.”


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