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For me, this video had echoes of the Kapos who operated in the concentration camps under the Nazis. The young lady’s sweet and gentle manner wasn’t reassuring to me, either.
If you’re not familiar with the roles of Kapos in the camps, they were prisoners who were used to provide oversight over their fellow prisoners:
In the Nazi concentration camps, the term Kapo was first used at Dachau from which it spread to the other camps.
Regardless of the origin, Kapos played a vital role in the Nazi camp system as a large number of prisoners within the system required constant oversight. Most Kapos were put in charge of a prisoner work gang, called Kommando. It was the Kapos job to brutally force prisoners to do forced labor, despite the prisoners being sick and starving.
Facing prisoner against prisoner served two goals for the SS: it allowed them to meet a labor need while simultaneously furthering tensions between various groups of prisoners.
In case you think I’m overreacting, let me tell you about a program that has been established at several college campuses all over the country. It is called the Student Health Ambassadors program, and a “toolkit” for creating these programs is now available from the American College Health Association.
In a recent article of the Federalist, the insidious nature of these programs is described:
How much would you have to be paid to commit social suicide? What if a paycheck wasn’t the only perk, but it also entitled you to a sickening sense of self-righteousness and an air of superiority?
This appears to be the tradeoff many college students have made this semester as universities’ ‘Student Health Ambassadors,’ paid adult hall monitors whose job is to patrol their campuses and enforce mask policies and distancing regulations. Several different institutions have opened this position, each one slightly different but all giving students authority over their peers in the name of public health.
One of the most egregious examples comes from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), where student Covid commissars have been given the authority to ‘break up social gatherings” and to check students’ ‘clearance certificates.’ Students who violate COVID policies can face suspension and expulsion. The enforcers, who are paid $15 an hour, even don vests and T-shirts emblazoned with the health ambassador logo.
Later in his article, he offers this insight:
It’s all theater, but refusing to believe in this cult of paranoia makes it all the more important that people are pressured into outward displays of obedience. The more absurd the rules get the more they require frequent social reaffirmation through unquestioning obedience.
Although there are students who support vaccine mandates, others are protesting what they experience as “overreach”:
Student complaints include objections to restrictions on their travel on and off campus, increased surveillance and what they consider erosion of civil liberties. Student-led petitions have prompted some schools to drop the use of location-tracking apps and requirements to wear sensors that monitor vital signs.
At the core of their concerns is a fear that universities are constructing a bureaucracy designed to control a generation just coming of age.
There is no doubt, however, that some schools are taking their mandates seriously, and students are pushing back:
Michigan has seen its share of reprisals: Students at Oakland University near Detroit successfully pushed back against a wearable ‘bio button’ designed to monitor heart rate, temperature and respiration, and warn the school if a student was showing signs of Covid-19. At Albion College in Albion, Mich., students petitioned the school to drop an app that monitored their location—on and off campus. Last week, Western Michigan University lost a federal appeal to require student athletes to be vaccinated to play.
Montana State University instituted a policy to place students on probation who have twice been reported by a professor for not wearing a mask. A third complaint results in a semester suspension. A fourth mask offense is grounds for expulsion.
Universities who have adopted the Student Health Ambassadors program tout their success and continue to expand their efforts. UNC Asheville celebrates its success:
‘From the beginning when we first got hired, it was solely focused on COVID, but as we learned more about COVID and our campus and what we needed, we learned that so much more goes into it…. There are so many things that tie into this work. Our themes each week helped students fill in those holes to prevent COVID,’ said senior Skyler Chillson.
UNC Asheville has also created special awards for their Student Health Ambassadors. I’m sure that there are many people motivated to create new ways to permeate the university system with these kinds of efforts.
So many questions are being asked about the virus, and just as many theories are being espoused: when will the pandemic be over? Are we ready to accept Covid-19 as endemic indefinitely? How far will organizations go to enforce their requirements, even in the face of new scientific information? When will students finally decide they’ve had enough of the universities’ demands and intrusions on their life, and what actions will they take in response? When will there be sufficient understanding of Covid-19 to roll back these programs?
I wouldn’t hold my breath.Published in