After civil liberties advocates dismissed concerns about statewide economic shutdowns and mask mandates, the same advocates worry that university administrations are abusing students’ civil liberties related to positive coronavirus tests or violating public health rules.
Inside Higher Ed reported that some college students have sought legal help from the civil liberties advocacy community because they were unfairly punished for their on- or off-campus behavior. These students claimed that universities violated their due process in determining they were guilty of violating public health and safety rules without conducting a hearing.
Most of the suspensions came after students hosted or attended parties or social gatherings, but the suspended students complained that their universities never provided clear guidelines nor did they outline the punishments associated with rules violations. University administrators disagreed and said they communicated their standards clearly to their students.
During the first several months of the pandemic, small business owners and conservatives protested mask mandates and state governments’ economic shutdown plans. The science has been sketchy, at best, on the effectiveness of wearing masks to prevent a disease from spreading, yet government officials in multiple states imposed a mask-wearing mandate nonetheless. It was also unclear how state government health agencies counted positive coronavirus tests, which then affected the state’s own metrics on whether the state would permit small businesses to resume operations.
Yet civil liberties advocates remained silent and did not voice potential violations of individual liberty, whether it was operating a small business free from government interference or complying with a government mandate to wear masks.