Much to the chagrin of many thousands of internet commenters, I’ve never thought that COVID, at least in the first instance, was any sort of concerted conspiracy or plot. It seemed doubtful that global health bureaucrats — or whichever other co-conspirators are alleged to have been involved in hatching the scheme — could be so ruthlessly competent at doing much of anything.
That being said: enough already. It’s long past time to stop extending any benefit of the doubt to the hordes of profiteers, neurotics, and control freaks who still incessantly use COVID as an excuse to flaunt their pathologies and micromanage everyone else’s life. To the extent these hyperventilating moralizers wield power, every effort should be made to strip them of it.
Most (sane) observers now acknowledge that COVID is well on its way to becoming an endemic disease, and will not be fully eradicated any time soon, if ever. Therefore it stands to reason that COVID has ceased to be an issue which ought to compel everyone’s constant, hyperventilating attention; nor does it any longer constitute an acute “crisis.” And so whichever factions have a vested interest — commercially, institutionally, politically, or otherwise — in maintaining the appearance of “crisis” need to be treated not just with intensifying skepticism, but when appropriate (which is often) outright contempt.
The edict issued yesterday by Joe Biden, a sweeping unilateral imposition on tens of millions of people to submit to an injection that they do not want, is just the tip of the iceberg. Biden still has Presidential Proclamations in effect today that assert the existence of a “National Emergency,” under the same criteria which existed in March 2020. At what point will the public officials who insisted that they needed Emergency Powers on a temporary basis be compelled to relinquish these powers? Next month? Next year? Never? If it’s the latter, then we are being consigned to live under a state of officially-decreed “permanent crisis” — itself a contradiction in terms. A crisis is not a crisis if it’s temporally indefinite.
Fitting, though, that this should coincide with the 20-year anniversary of 9/11, which likewise ushered in a “permanent crisis” — the response to which vastly exceeded all semblance of rationality and proportion. Politicians, corporations, and other functionaries had far too much invested in demonstrating their aggressively proactive response to the perceived threat, and as a result could never bring themselves to admit that terrorism, while real, was ultimately a minor issue.
To that end, you may be interested to know that there is at least one Australia-style experiment being run at a small liberal arts college in Connecticut. For months, Australia has infamously been languishing under cartoonishly stringent lockdown protocols — brought to the attention of Americans thanks to recurring viral clips of local news anchors who appear at first glance to be auditioning for an apocalyptic parody film, but evidently are dead serious. It turns out there’s also a US-based version of this approach underway, albeit on a micro scale and thus largely evading notice. At this very moment, Connecticut College in New London (estimated total cost for the 2020-2021 academic year: $79,575) has its entire student body under mass quarantine. Here is an excerpt of an email lovingly delivered this week to the “campus community” by Dean Victor Arcelus, outlining the restrictions in place:
So essentially, the campus has been shuttered by the unilateral decree of Dean what’s-his-face. Sounds familiar. Visits with friends prohibited, special permission slips required for anybody to leave, and confinement to one’s personal living space imposed. Note that they even have their own adorable little color-coded “Alert” system, apparently modeled on the Department of Homeland Security’s dopey old “Terror Alert” system — rightly lampooned in the early 2000s for its uselessness and absurdity, but now accepted as a reasonable model for the present “crisis.”
So what prompted this drastic action at Connecticut College? First, to fully appreciate the lunacy being practiced here, you have to understand that Connecticut College already required vaccination at the outset of this school year. Everybody is vaccinated (or, technically, 99% of the student population is vaccinated per the Dean’s stated figures). And yet far from enabling a return to normalcy, as is supposed to be the premise behind vaccination, all that it’s done is set the stage for further extreme intrusions. That’s because the College also mandates that these near-universally vaccinated students submit to a twice-weekly testing regimen. Seems rather like a solution in search of a problem — but that’s all the better for paranoid busybody Deans such as Victor Arcelus, who clearly relish any opportunity to exercise power over their precious little fiefdom. As he wrote after announcing the latest shutdown:
“Engagement opportunities”? Like what, Dean Arcelus — hanging out with friends? That’s an “engagement opportunity”? Behold the kind of creepily sterilized bureaucratic jargon that only a college administrator mediocrity could come up with. Just the sort of brilliantly innovative language that you’d expect someone who self-identifies as “a specialist in holistic learning” to vomit out, thinking it makes them sound impressive.
As one student explained to me, “We are one of the few small liberal arts colleges in the Northeast that is testing everyone twice a week, which is why we have so many cases … the college is digging themselves in a hole.” (All students I spoke to were given anonymity.)
“They originally told us we weren’t going to be testing, then a week or two before we came back to campus they changed the rules on us and said we’d be testing the exact same [amount] as last year, despite having required the entire student body to be vaccinated.”
So this week, around 50 tests came back as positive, and a sudden shutdown was ordered. Then in a feat of shameless deflection, administrators started blaming students for the inevitable, 100% foreseeable consequences of the ridiculously overbearing “testing” policy that they chose to implement, which is of course going to turn up some positive results. As the Dean wrote in one of his many excruciatingly annoying emails:
He further declared, “The positive cases we are now seeing are the direct result of not following the mask-wearing protocols.” Are they really? Or are they the result of the nonsensically rigorous testing regimen you’ve imposed on a population of healthy (and vaccinated!) young adults?
“Please hold yourself and each other accountable to this expectation across campus and in the community,” the Dean obnoxiously adds. How about holding yourself accountable for the relentless busybody system you’ve put yourself in charge of administering, which evidently achieves nothing except for widespread aggravation, resentment, and deprivation of learning/opportunity — even if it (creepily) allows you to micromanage the social lives of adults?
One student told me, “We are paying an incredible amount of money just to sit in our dorms and attend class through Zoom. It is truly insane, and our college experience is being completely hijacked.”
Another: “They’ve made this place into a prison and in turn blamed students for acceptable activities for young, healthy, vaccinated adults.”
Another student — a sophomore who had just emerged from nine days of specialized isolation housing after testing positive for COVID, despite displaying zero symptoms, and now has been funneled into yet another senseless quarantine situation — said: “It’s just really hard to not be a normal college student. I’ve really never had a normal college experience, and it’s just really sad.”
Another wrote to me:
I think the whole situation is crazy to be honest! We all were required to be vaccinated, and now because Conn last minute (as usual) changed their minds and made us all get tested twice a week again, we have over 100 covid cases when the majority of people are showing no symptoms. We’re then being told that we’re in “alert orange” which is essentially barebone college planning as a way for Conn to cover their asses.
Here’s a recent dictate handed down by a “Floor Governor” presiding over one of the College’s dorm facilities. “Floor Governors,” I’m told, are what one might have previously referred to as “RAs,” but with a fancy spruced up title which I’m sure makes them feel very powerful and important. Imagine anointing yourself the “Governor” of a floor full of college kids. 😂
I wonder if these “Governors” walk around with security details? And maybe conduct the occasional press conference?
And here’s an excerpt from an email sent September 2 by the tenacious busybody Dean, no doubt enamored of his own power. Guidelines are set forth for how students must confront and report on one another in the event that inadequate mask-wearing techniques are observed — up to and including submission of “incident reports” through an online portal system:
A bunch of students told me that — especially last year — it was commonplace for Instagram and Snapchat screenshots to be obtained by snitching students, who would then forward them to authorities to provide evidence of their classmates’ supposed “violations.” These are then adjudicated through an “Honor Council” quango, with potentially severe consequences levied, including markings added to their “permanent record” and losing the ability to travel abroad. Here’s a darkly comical incident from 2020; apparently some snitch-minded students endeavoring to uphold the sacred “Honor Code” confronted a group of alleged violators, and chaos ensued:
That stuff would’ve been extravagantly excessive a year ago, but this year everyone’s vaccinated! And yet the environment of nitpicking surveillance continues. Here’s what the friendly Dean emailed out before this past weekend, when all the wildly violative unsanctioned socializing allegedly occurred. (Heaven forbid vaccinated 18 to 22-year-olds gather on a Saturday night without strict adherence to mask-wearing protocols at top of mind.)
The official PR agent for Connecticut College, National Media Relations Manager Tiffany Thiele, never responded to my email inquiries. Which is a stark contrast from the torrent of students who messaged me, eager to share information about what a ridiculous situation they’re in — “grounded” in their dorms, back to the dreary cycle of Zoom classes, barred from visiting friends, and requiring a special permission slip to leave campus. “So I’m paying $70,000+ a year to now be once again denied the experience of college,” one wrote to me.
“There are some serious snitches here,” another said. “Honestly it’s pretty bad. It’s a very common occurrence for House Staff to file reports and for other students to send Snapchat/Insta stories to the administration to ‘punish’ those who go off campus.”
Another told me, “Campus safety has been sent to kids’ dorm rooms at like 11pm - 1am after Snapchats have been posted... I was in a Zoom meeting and a girl was like fuck everyone who has gone to a party.”
While it can be tempting to generalize that the current crop of college students — especially at a small liberal arts college like this one — are all submissive safety-obsessed supplicants, I’ve heard from enough who strongly resent these intrusions to reject that over-simplified characterization. There does seem to be a divide, though —with a zealous faction of COVID crusaders clearly holding sway. Estimates from the students I spoke to about the overall opinion of their peers range from a 50/50 split on COVID policy, to a healthy majority opposed, to somewhere in between.
In light of the recent shutdown, an open-letter style Google Doc has actually been published from the snitching crusader faction, condemning the College administration for being too lax in their handling of COVID policy. Even as they’re under mass quarantine and subjected to aggressive “in loco parentis” behavioral monitoring. Among the demands issued by this faction are more severe punishment of their peers for alleged violations, such as attending “illicit gatherings” or getting “caught” patronizing heinous off-campus establishments:
Which faction — the alarmist activist-minded busybodies or the exasperated “normies” who just want to be left alone — do you think a small liberal arts college in Connecticut is more likely to cater to? Should go without saying.
While this is just one tiny self-contained campus, the last few years especially have proven that the habits of mind incubated in such settings can migrate outwards to the rest of the culture with increasing speed. Especially if we’re now stuck in a “permanent crisis” scenario, with whatever future “threats” that allegedly entails, Connecticut College might not be so isolated an example for long.
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