That is the question I ask in my latest Bloomberg column, as Princeton won’t let you leave Mercer County and Yale won’t let you go into town. Here is the closing bit:
I doubt these policies will significantly limit the spread of Covid. But my objection is more fundamental: They put universities in the untenable position of both panicking about Covid and treating Covid as trivial. Given the purpose of a university as an educational leader, a university that is hypocritical and rhetorically corrupt is failing outright.
The restrictions also show these universities as content to treat their students much worse than their faculty and staff — a faculty and staff that is typically older and thus more at risk for Covid. The liberty of Yale students to visit a local bookshop or grocer is less important than freedom of movement for faculty and administrators.
Imagine the reaction if a professor or a dean told a student: “I will go out and about and do largely as I please. But you have to stay on campus, so you do not infect me.” It would be considered outrageous, and rightly so.
Right now some of America’s top universities are essentially sending that message — in the process telling the world that they are not morally serious. They should not be surprised, then, when the world starts believing them.
Those places seem screwed up to me.