First things first check out what a Panopticon is here.
For obvious reasons I am not going to name the institution, but I can tell you that in national rankings, it ranks number 3 in my country.
The institution has 11,000 students out of which 500 have been called back so far. They called back senior PhD students who need lab access immediately. However, in reopening they have created a pure dystopia. Below I describe some rules of this modern day Panopticon
Getting Back to Campus
Students are expected to return wearing masks, gloves, full sleeve t-shirts and full-length pants/jeans. Additionally, they must also cover their shoes with shoe covers while travelling. They are also to give details of their travel including flight/train numbers, registration and driver number of the cab.
Students immediately move to the quarantine centre where first their luggage is sanitized by a spray. After words they get allotted a room and are assigned a washroom. Students are not allowed to interact with other students in the quarantine centre for a 15-day period. They are also not allowed to leave the quarantine building and even the floor on which they are staying. “Virtual interaction between quarantining students is encouraged”.
Students will be left meal packets outside their door, which they must consume within 30 minutes and leave the trash/leftovers back outside the door within the allotted time. If they fail to do so, they will not be given the next meal without a fine.
Students also have to use oximeters and a thermometer five times a day on themselves. They are to log their oxygen and body temperature reading with their PhD supervisor, parents and health care centre every day. (This applies even after the quarantine period is over).
Students may return to their dorms/residence halls. However, they cannot enter dorms not assigned to their gender (for instance boys can go to only other boys’ residence halls and same for women). The campus earlier allowed students to go around the hostels even though they were gender segregated. Apparently covid only transmits between genders not within.
Students need to give their oxygen and body temperature levels before they can go to the mess hall or restaurants on campus. They must also use contact tracing apps at all times. They are to wear one cloth-mask everyday which has been marked for the day. We’ve been told to get 7 cloth masks and each can be worn only once a day and is literally labelled with the day. This is to ensure masks are washed before reuse apparently.
In-case you test positive for covid
You are sent over to the government run hospital. After your discharge, you will be quarantined for an additional 21 days before being allowed back into campus.
I think it is downright insane what the institute is doing. We have written countless letters asking them for scientific evidence for any of these regulations. Because of this, two of my colleagues have been told to move off of campus and one has not been allowed to return.
I would personally be fine with wearing a mask inside a closed lab space if others are around. Other than that, I see no reason for these regulations. The mental toll of living in such a panopticon where you are literally under the eye 24×7 is insane. We have tried reaching out to media outlets to get them to cover this, barring one, none have responded. The response we did get read “There is a pandemic, these are reasonable guidelines. Be grateful you’re allowed back on campus even during a world-wide pandemic not seen in 100 years”. After this, we decided to give up on reaching out to the media.
The problem is I desperately need to get back to the lab and with my colleagues. My work has been shut since March 18th. It’s seriously frustrating.