OPINION: Are vaccine mandates on college and university campuses a good idea?

Photo of Ren Sikes’s vaccine card, the Opinions Editor for Flyer News.

Lucinda Judd | Staff Writer

Despite vaccine mandates being put into place at the University of Cincinnati and Ohio University, a vaccine mandate at the University of Dayton would likely have negative consequences.

The UD Student News Digest has already addressed the question of placing a vaccination mandate on students and settled on “no” as an answer citing the 72% vaccination rate. But if cases on campus were to dramatically increase, should the mandate be reconsidered?

As an out-of-state student, my answer is no. I am vaccinated and I highly encourage others to consider becoming vaccinated against COVID-19 as well but not because of a university requirement.

In New York, my home state, all state Universities of New York have been required to enforce the COVID-19 vaccine or not allow students to enter campus. However, SUNY and schools only require proof of vaccination from students, not faculty or staff setting a double-standard and many private universities and colleges in New York have followed suit. 

The mandates have created a general sense of annoyance and sometimes anger among the SUNY students I have spoken to, with some considering transferring to other schools or studying fully online.

With most classes this semester at UD not offering hybrid or fully online options, a mandate like SUNY schools would force students to get the vaccine or to attempt to circumvent it by creating exemptions. And despite increasing vaccination rates on campus being the goal of such a mandate, it would create a sense of negativity and distrust in the administration especially considering the politics of our campus.

Pew Research Center as of March 5, said “Democrats are now 27 percentage points more likely than Republicans to say they plan to get, or have already received, a coronavirus vaccine (83% to 56%).” 

UD is fairly politically diverse, but being in a largely conservative area, the general politics of campus lean more that way as well. A poll conducted on Niche found that only 7% of those that answered would say the political beliefs of campus as a whole are liberal compared to 36% would say conservative. If our campus were to reflect the data, students are more likely to to not receive the vaccine, and the general feeling of the public is that conservative-leaning individuals are more likely to reject mask and vaccine policies. The inference is that if UD mandates the vaccine, there will be resistance from conservative-leaning, and likely some liberal-leaning students as well. If the theme from New York schools continues here as well, UD may lose some students and some funding as well. 

The student body has been great about receiving the COVID-19 vaccine but requiring a vaccine is an incredibly different question than asking students to receive it. I suspect that like on several SUNY campuses there would be resistance solely because it is a requirement, not a request.

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