Students "obligated" to tattle on friends
CHICO, CA (August 28, 2020): Yet another university has an unconstitutional COVID reporting scheme in place. But this time, Chico State University (CSU) tells students that they are obligated to report other students who engage in “unsafe behavior.” SLF sent a letter today on behalf of concerned CSU students seeking clarification about what CSU considers unsafe behavior and what will happen to students who are either reported for unsafe behavior or refuse to report their friends for unsafe behavior.
In a statement to the student body, the CSU President and Associated Students (student government) President declared that the University “will use all of its resources to identify those who flaunt the rules, be it a club, a chapter, or an individual.” The presidents warned that anyone engaging in “unsafe behavior” faces suspension or even expulsion.
SLF warns in its letter that the threats by both administrators and members of student government will have an unconstitutional chilling effect on student speech. The CSU COVID policy allows students to “simply report student organizations for unsafe behavior to detract from planned speech activities.” This chilling effect will deter students from engaging in free speech activities, because “investing time and money in these gatherings simply will not be worth the risk of facing suspension or expulsion.”
SLF hopes that CSU will remember the importance of free speech during these times and will address these students’ concerns.