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  • Writer's pictureAsclepius

University Club: Epicenter of Dystopia

“It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”


It goes without saying that division and animosity between people has radically accelerated over the past two years. A growing number of people will not even associate with someone they disagree with--the gulf between “vaccinated” and “unvaccinated” being the latest and increasingly most intense example.

The actions we take today shape the world we will have in the future. So, it is important to contemplate how our handling of vaccine-induced division will impact our community, regardless of how we individually feel about the personal medical decisions underpinning this divide.

There are individuals throughout our community who have, for personal, medical or religious reasons, abstained from the COVID injections. Many of these individuals, in the face of vaccine mandates, were only able to maintain their access to employment or education through compliance with mandatory testing programs.

With case counts declining and the mask mandate now lapsed, many Dane County residents have breathed a sigh of relief and hope for a return to something resembling pre-COVID life; but the testing programs remain. They stand as a testament to a system of medical segregation that has been implemented in our midst over the past two years.

Such systems can be hard to see if you are not looking for them, because their presence is distributed. Those subjected to them are isolated and have little ability to share their experience. They are often afraid of disclosing their unvaccinated status due to the hostile and intolerant culture we have developed in Dane County.

However, if anyone would like to take a look behind the curtain, there's no easier place to observe the impact of mass-scale, compulsory, asymptomatic testing on our society than on the UW-Madison campus.

UW-Madison currently enrolls over 45,000 students on its campus, supported by approximately 24,000 staff. Everyone on campus who has abstained from the COVID injections must submit to weekly PCR nasal swabs. This testing program is run through the University Club on the campus mall portion of State Street and shows no sign of ending.

From benches in front of this building, one can sit and observe a steady flow of disillusioned college students being funneled through this facility, like animals in an industrial farming operation. Thousands of people every week.

Each of these people are healthy and without any symptoms, yet their existence has been medicalized. They are treated as diseased--as “societally unclean.” They are individuals under constant suspicion. Guilty until proven innocent, they are forced repeatedly to have an invasive medical procedure they do not want. A foreign object is inserted into their body, without their voluntary choice. The principle of being prohibited from making their own medical decisions is as much the violation as the experience of having a probe placed in their sinuses.

For anyone who has not experienced processing through a facility like that at the University Club, it will be difficult to understand what is happening.

Subjects must pre-register and schedule an appointment to ensure orderly flow through the testing center. Individuals are assigned a QR code, which must be scanned to connect them to the database and testing materials, identical to the programs used by totalitarian regimes.

Kindergarteners in China waiting for their Covid test.

Are we proud to subject our neighbors to these processes? Should our brothers, sisters, and children be treated like this--even if we disagree with them?

Inside the Center

At UW, subjects are made to self-administer the nasal swab. Perhaps it would be worse to have it done to you by the administrators, but what psychological damage lies in being made to do to yourself that which you do not want done to you. You, the individual, are made fully complicit in the act, any last bit of personal agency removed:

“Just a little bit further in sweetie, thank you!”

“Four full rotations on each side, please, thanks!”

Think of the quandary of students in these situations. Most of them are burdened with debt and have no job or income. They've absorbed the message that even speaking about their experience or opinion will jeopardize their financial and professional future.

Many of these people feel demoralized and disrespected. Despite any minor, tangible benefit from potentially identifying a few asymptomatic students with Omicron, can anyone deny harm to the well-being of these students (and staff who are in the same boat) from imposing this draconian system on them?

“Once a society organizes for a preventive disease-hunt, it gives epidemic proportions to diagnosis. This ultimate triumph of therapeutic culture turns the independence of the average healthy person into an intolerable form of deviance.” -Ivan Illich, Medical Nemesis (1975)

Students rightly feel violated by these programs. It has understandably fostered resentment among them. They aren't alone. In the long term, a policy that generates disgust and frustration will serve to undermine respect for and trust in public health by many in our society.

Does anyone believe we can treat people like this and simultaneously build a cohesive, trusting, and healthy society?

Moving Forward

We desperately need to end not just the damaging COVID policies of the past two years but, more importantly, the mindset that they were justified. We must stop treating people like cattle. There can be no ethics in medicine or public health without informed consent; and there can be no informed consent if people cannot say no. It should never be acceptable to force medical procedures on people who do not want them.

We must recognize that each individual is the rightful and exclusive owner of their own body.

If we want to live in a free and civil society we must recognize that people will disagree with each other and may not do exactly what we want. We must tolerate differences of opinion instead of manufacturing an artificial consensus by force.

Coercive asymptomatic testing programs are a manifestation of societal intolerance and, frankly, hypochondriasis that results from living in a state fear. Is it reasonable or wise or even healthy to pander to the paranoid, who want to look for potential COVID within every unvaccinated person?

Testing must return to its intended use: to diagnose disease in those who are unwell.

If you are a student or employee enduring this process without your consent, we want to let you know that we understand what you're going through, and believe it's wrong. We invite you to reach out to Dane Undivided. We can connect you with like-minded individuals who will support, encourage, and inspire you during this unfortunate and difficult time.

To those who see what is happening--those who agree it needs to stop--we invite you, too, to reach out and to join us in working to restore ethical governance and moral leadership to Dane County.

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