Oregon State University (OSU) has updated its COVID-19 Safety Policy to restrict students gathering in groups of over ten people on or off campus anywhere in the state of Oregon.
At around 5:20 p.m. Monday, OSU sent an email to inform students of some of these changes, saying they were enforceable through the Code of Student Conduct, which includes consequences such as suspension, and may even affect immigration status.
OSU has a public report forum where it is possible to report people for violating the COVID-19 Safety Policy and includes a box where photos and videos can be uploaded.
While there is no set rulebook for what to do in the middle of this pandemic, there are boundaries for the amount of personal privacy that can be invaded. Madlyn Neuschwander, a second-year natural resources major at OSU, believes a line was crossed.
“It feels quite tyrannical, in all honesty,” she said, “I don’t think that OSU should have a role in mandating how many people are in a student’s home, and I don’t think that they should put that burden on students through the code of conduct where they can punish students and their education for something that is not education related.”
Neuschwander also said the policy was too vague about the repercussions for such actions and believes this will deter people from going to or staying at OSU.
“Oregon State is infringing on our privacy as students and within the community,” she said, adding later that she feels the U.S. Constitution is being violated.
Kara Traffas, a third-year English major, believes the enforcement is necessary, saying “I think that OSU is a high-risk place for a coronavirus outbreak, since there are so many students from a variety of different places, so I think OSU needs rules like this to keep everyone safe.”
She said, “I think that it is unfortunate that OSU has to make rules about off campus behavior, but I think it might be the only way to make the campus safe.”
OSU, where do you think the line is drawn between safety and freedom?
While society is constantly struggling to find that line, this does not seem the time to flex your muscles to see how much you can get away with or how far you can take your power. It is important that people stay safe, but it is also important to know your place in the active role you take in people’s lives as a university. The state already has guidelines, let them decide if they were violated and then decide what to do if the violators were students.
Students pay the university to get an education, and as such, provides them with revenue. A lot of revenue. It will be interesting to see whether the university suffers further financial loss because of students feeling restricted, or whether students will simply go underground and continue to have gatherings where guests check their phones at the door.
OSU did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
By Hannah Ramsey