by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
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.
Other universities have taken similar approaches. The school that I attend, Pepperdine University, has launched a program to “train and deploy” students to “monitor” their peers for “COVID-19 policy compliance,” a gig that conveniently comes with a high visibility bright blue T-shirt. Pepperdine has also decided to use the carrot instead of just the stick, now giving out raffle tickets to those who are wearing masks.
Similar “health ambassador” positions have opened up at various universities, including at the University of Rochester, the University of California at Davis, New York University, Penn State, and the Washington University in St. Louis, where the student workers wear yellow shirts bearing the phrase “If you can read this, you’re too close” and an elite division has been dispatched to be “cubby monitors” who monitor private study rooms.