“Yale’s enforcement scheme violates basic due process principles”
Pitting people against each other in this way is a recipe for disaster.
From the FIRE blog:
Yale encourages anonymous reports to enforce COVID-19 restrictions, creates ‘surveillance state’
Yale University describes itself as a “community where people of diverse cultures and nationalities live, work, and play — connected by their similarities and enriched by their differences.” But what happens when members of that community live in fear of each other, as they are encouraged to monitor and anonymously report on their classmates?
When students began making their way back to campus after the COVID-19 pandemic forced an extended period of remote education, schools across the country faced difficult decisions on how best to limit the spread of the virus on campus. Seemingly determined to continue standing out for the worst possible reasons, Yale made the unfortunate choice to discard due process principles and basic notions of fundamental fairness by adopting a scheme to enforce the Yale Community Compact that relies on anonymous accusations of one’s peers.
Still in place today, Yale’s enforcement scheme violates basic due process principles. It deputizes students to serve as anonymous informants to enforce campus COVID-19 restrictions, thereby preventing accused students from knowing the identities of their accusers, and giving accused students just 24 hours to respond, even as they face potential removal from the university without a hearing. This week, FIRE sent a letter to Yale, urging the Ivy League institution to revise the Community Compact and related procedures.
The Yale Community Compact (which you can read in full here) requires students to follow all university COVID-19 guidelines and protocols. Intended to “promote the health and safety of all community members,” the compact outlines a variety of protocols, from vaccination and face covering requirements to agreeing not to host unauthorized persons on campus without advance permission. This is pretty standard among institutions attempting to return to in-person learning while balancing federal, state, and local health restrictions.
What’s not standard is Yale’s complete disregard for students’ due process, and its failure to consider what’s at stake for students subject to the enforcement scheme. If a student fails to meet the standards outlined in the compact, they “may have forfeited the privilege to continue to participate” for the rest of the academic year.
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