Saturday, October 23, 2021

Editorial: The University should require COVID-19 vaccines

<p>Illustration by Daena Faustino. </p>

Illustration by Daena Faustino.

Editor's note: On Friday, July 30 President Samuel L. Stanley Jr. announced MSU students, staff and faculty will be required to receive vaccinations. The decision was made because of breakthrough cases and transmission rates regarding the Delta variant of COVID-19.

MSU has been known to make some last-minute calls. Just last year the university decided to cancel all plans for in-person learning less than a week before campus move-in was set to begin. 

While we thought some additional foresight could’ve been used, we knew the university made the decision with students’ safety in mind. And we think they should do that again and require mandatory vaccines for all students, staff and faculty that are able to get vaccinated. 

Six schools in the Big Ten conference are mandating the COVID-19 vaccine — Indiana University, the University of Maryland, the University of Michigan, Rutgers University, the University of Illinois and Northwestern University.

Additionally, five other schools in Michigan — Albion College, the College for Creative Studies, Kalamazoo College, Lawrence Technological University and Oakland University — have already mandated the COVID-19 vaccine for students living on-campus in the fall. 

At MSU, the University Council voted in favor of a mandatory COVID-19 vaccine requirement. Currently, MSU does not require any vaccines, but strongly encourages students to receive vaccinations recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

While MSU is incentivizing students to get vaccinated, the fact that vaccinated students “will be eligible for prizes” is not enough for students to get vaccinated. 

MSU is offering $20 in Spartan Cash for filling out a survey regarding their vaccination status, mirroring incentive programs at the state level, as well. Michigan is one of the many states to implement a “vaccine lottery” to ramp up vaccination rates as COVID-19 rates begin to rise once more. 

Cases are on the rise again as the country enters its fourth wave of COVID-19 infections due to the Delta variant. It is a gamble to rely on the world and empathy of college students that could unnecessarily risk a lot of lives and force us to return to online learning. 

Incentive programs are helpful, but some people will need more of a push to pull the trigger and get vaccinated. Students should be able to feel safe and confident in their school, especially if they are returning to in-person schooling.

While the university requires that unvaccinated students wear masks inside, how can students trust that unvaccinated folks will be honest about their status? Even if they’re getting tested weekly, how can the university ensure the safety of classmates and professors if a positive test result comes back?

If people are able to receive the vaccine without having any health risks, they should be required to do so. A majority of schools offer exemptions, whether that be health-related or religious reasons, and we believe MSU should offer those same exemptions.

A federal court ruled in favor of Indiana University’s decision to mandate vaccines. With students filling dorms, an outbreak is bound to happen. Even vaccinated students are at risk of testing positive for COVID-19, and with people expected to be back in the dorms, the safest possible option is a vaccine requirement. 

The MSU Pavilion was once set up to offer vaccinations, so what’s stopping them from opening back up again? 

What if a vaccinated student is paired with an unvaccinated roommate? How can they both feel confident in one another’s safety measures?

There’s still time to support student safety. We’d much rather require students to be vaccinated than see another outbreak that results in another year of virtual learning. Now is the time to be proactive, MSU. Do the right thing.

The State News Editorial Board is composed of Editor-in-Chief Karly Graham, Managing Editor Kaishi Chhabra, Copy Chief SaMya Overall, Audience Engagement Editor Griffin Wiles, Multimedia Editor Lauren Snyder, Diversity and Inclusion Rep. Ashley Zhou and Staff Rep. Jared Ramsey. 

This article is part of our 2021 Summer Mail Home Issue. View the full digital issue here.

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