By: Jeffrey Xiang — Editor-in-Chief
Colleges across the country have begun deciding whether or not to mandate that students get the vaccine before arriving on campus in the fall.
Despite polls showing that about a third of college-age people do not want to receive the vaccine, colleges have started to implement vaccine policies in order to maintain the health and safety of the thousands on campuses.
On March 25, Rutgers University became the first university to require students to be vaccinated, with exemptions made for students with medical or religious reasons and students enrolled in fully remote programs.
Rutgers President Jonathan Holloway and other leaders cite the acceleration of the return to pre-pandemic normal as a benefit to the vaccination requirement. The requirement will allow for “including increased in-person course offerings, more on-campus events and activities, and more collaboration in instructional and research projects,” said Rutgers leadership.
It will also enable “expanded dining and recreation options and greater interpersonal collaboration between students, faculty, and staff,” they added.
In the weeks since, Cornell University, Roger Williams University, Brown University, Northeastern University, and other colleges have also mandated the vaccination of students returning to campus in the fall.
One concern for colleges has been potential litigation following the implementation of such a requirement. Colleges aim to minimize their legal exposure and have been cautious before implementing a mandate.
Senior Sam Levitt says that he thinks requiring vaccines is a good idea for colleges. “As long as schools provide vaccines for people who are unable to get it elsewhere, I think it is a good idea. It would protect everyone on campus and allow us (the students) to have as normal a year as possible,” said Levitt.
Senior Lydia Herrmann agrees that colleges must be able to provide vaccines if they are to mandate them. “Mandated vaccination would definitely benefit students and help end the pandemic sooner, but if colleges require vaccines, I think they should also help provide access to them,” added Herrmann.
Colleges requiring vaccinations before students arrive in the fall seems to be a reasonable and important public health measure says senior Janelle Li. “I think it’s a good idea to really encourage vaccination as soon as possible so that the majority of students living on campus together in the fall will have immunity. For students in the US, vaccines seem to be becoming increasingly available and unless granted medical or religious exemptions by the university,” said Li.
Li says that a vaccine mandate could be difficult for international students. “One thing that international students I’ve talked to have pointed out, though, is that other countries may not have widespread vaccination availability, making it more difficult for them to get vaccinated. In cases like these, I think it would be great if the university could provide vaccinations, if at all possible,” added Li.
Senior Jordan Saks says that colleges have the right to determine what is best for their college. “Obviously, the college has to be ready for any criticism they may face for this, but I 100% respect a college’s decision to mandate a vaccine to try to create a safer environment,” said Saks.