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UBC law students scolded for planning to snitch on peers who allegedly broke COVID-19 rules

"Collecting and sharing your peers’ personal information without their express permission crosses both ethical and professional boundaries."
File photo.

The Peter A. Allard School of Law at the University of British Columbia is scolding students who created a list of peers they believed were contravening public health orders during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. 

Last week, UBC's student newspaper, The Ubyessy, shared a letter that was addressed to second-year law students regarding a spreadsheet they created that included the names of alleged "rule breakers" enrolled in UBC's law faculty.

The Allard School of Law Career Services Office (CSO) had addressed second-year students in its first letter, who it believed were behind the list. However, a second letter was sent out to both first and second-year students, after the department became aware of first-year students who were involved in or responsible for the spreadsheet, too.

Matthew Ramsey, a spokesperson for UBC, shared the second letter in an email with Vancouver Is Awesome, which is addressed to both first and second-year students. 

The CSO writes that alleged incidents of non-compliance with public health orders were gathered from "social media profiles/activities" and that students planned to share the spreadsheet with "students/employers during the [second-year law] recruit" in the fall. 

Spreadsheet of alleged peer non-compliance with current public health orders

"Any students involved in creating such a list are asked to immediately delete and destroy it and refrain from otherwise sharing the information (with peers, students at large, or externally)," adds the CSO. 
"While it is absolutely frustrating to see people skirt public health orders, public shaming of this nature is completely inappropriate and unlikely to lead to increased accountability or change in behaviour. Rather, collecting and sharing your peers’ personal information without their express permission crosses both ethical and professional boundaries (and arguably violates UBC’s Student Code of Conduct).

"Aside from satisfying a vigilante urge, there is nothing helpful that comes from such a spreadsheet. You are all part of a community (both at Allard, and more broadly, within the legal profession), and are reminded of the importance of treating each other with kindness, compassion, deference, and professionalism. Failing do so will reflect poorly on you, and can have long-lasting consequences to your reputation within the profession."

The CSO also shares contact of people at the school who students may reach out to with questions about or further information pertaining to the spreadsheet. It also shares the contact of a counsellor for students who "found this message distressing."