Colleges and universities are supposed to be bastions of science and logic. Simple calculations of risk show that young people have a near zero mortality risk from COVID. Yet college students are subject to far harsher lockdown and testing requirements than even the very old. This not only defies common sense. It is permanently harming an entire generation.
Social scientists are well-aware of the scarring effect. Trauma in the early stages of life have an impact on our lives many years in the future. In a classic in the field of life course studies, sociologist Glen Elder found that men who came of age during the Great Depression were more likely to be withdrawn, cyclical and depressed many decades in the future.
The COVID pandemic has been particularly hard on young Americans. Like young people during the Great Depression, young people in America have been disproportionately harmed by job loss. But young people today have the additional trauma from the hysteria that is gripping colleges and universities today.
One source of trauma is learning loss. Two years into the pandemic, many colleges continue to conduct instruction through online learning. Studies show that students at colleges that shifted to online learning had lower test scores than those who continued to learn on-campus.
Another is the loss of ability to network and socialize with faculty and fellow students.
But perhaps the most significant harm to young people is being traumatized by the constant fear mongering by college administrators. According to a survey by BestColleges.com, 95 percent of college students say that they have experienced negative mental health symptoms as a result of COVID and 48 percent believe that mental health effects have negatively affected their education.
Measures that have been taken by colleges are far out of line with the health risks to college students. According to the CDC, the risk of death from COVID for Americans between the ages of 15 and 24 is 0.001 percent. And colleges students are generally in good health so their risks are likely a small fraction of 0.001 percent.
Yet at colleges like Boston’s Emerson, students are still confined to their rooms, at Georgetown subject to constant testing and confinement even though they don’t show symptoms and Yale University won’t allow students to eat off campus.
The damage to the psyche and intellectual development of young people from these draconian measures are inflicting deep scars on the younger generations. The effects have only begun to become apparent.