As the fall semester approaches amid ongoing coronavirus concerns, colleges across the country are relying on students to be the eyes and ears of public health management on campus. This comes with a big risk, writes Karen Levy, an Info Sci assistant professor, and Lauren Kilgour, an Info Sci doctoral student, in this New York Times editorial, "Don't Make College Kids the Coronavirus Police."
While recognizing the crucial role students will have in protecting against the spread of coronavirus on campus, Levy and Kilgour also urge caution in deputizing students to be the undercover coronavirus police. Students may find themselves weighing the burden of preserving public health against the potential personal costs of reporting their fellow students, possibly even close friends, they write.
"Fighting the coronavirus is, to be sure, an all-hands-on-deck problem, but pitting students against one another in a high-stress time carries real risks, and colleges should be exceedingly careful about casting their students in the role of undercover coronavirus cops. Deputizing students to police their peers threatens to disrupt the interpersonal dynamics of student life, while also creating conditions to displace blame onto students should outbreaks occur."