When asked about the University’s decision to mandate coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines for the Fall 2021 semester, students who spoke with The Daily Targum said they look forward to being on campus again.
One of these students is Andre Serodio, a Rutgers Business School sophomore, who said the mandate can help students feel safe when returning.
“I think only allowing students back who have been vaccinated is a good idea, as it lowers the chance of an outbreak on campus, makes students feel safer around others (since we’d all be vaccinated) and also (has) the side effect of lowering the amount of people on campus, which is good, even though the pandemic is starting to go away,” he said.
Deep Parekh, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore, said it is nice to see the University taking precautions around the COVID-19 pandemic and that he misses being on campus with in-person classes.
“Finally being able to go back is awesome,” he said. “This will definitely promote a safe environment on campus for all students to meet each other and have fun.”
Aditi Kiron, a School of Arts and Sciences junior, also said she has wanted to return to campus for a long time and was excited upon hearing that all students vaccinated for COVID-19 would be able to.
“Personally, I am very glad that the University is requiring students to get vaccinated as I think it is something that should be mandatory and makes students like myself feel protected, though I am a bit nervous for the possible backlash from certain students and the public as the current vaccines are still under Emergency Use Authorization,” she said.
Under guidance from the Food and Drug Administration, vaccines with Emergency Use Authorization must be voluntary, but University spokesperson Dory Devlin said the University believes legal authorities will support their policy, according to an article from Politico.
Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences (RBHS) Senior Vice Chancellor Vicente Gracias previously said in January that the COVID-19 vaccine would not be mandatory for returning to campus but rather encouraged in the interest of protecting human liberties, The Daily Targum reported.
Vijay Talluri, a Rutgers Business School freshman, said he thinks it is legal and ethical for the University to require vaccinations from students.
“The people who object to this on personal grounds, and who believe it violates their rights, should read the Supreme Court case Jacobson v. Massachusetts (1905), in which the Court ruled that the government has the power to enforce vaccinations,” he said. “And that by doing so, it's not infringing upon personal freedoms or (religious) beliefs. As such, it is perfectly constitutionally permissible to enforce such a regulation.”
Mariam Girgis, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore, said a vaccine mandate like the University’s is not new in that students who have lived on-campus in the past are permitted to do so due to the vaccines and immunizations they have had throughout their lives.
“If people want to live on campus, it’s important that (COVID-19) doesn’t actually kill any of us, so requiring the vaccine is necessary and the safest decision (University President Jonathan) Holloway could’ve made,” she said. “There was absolutely no way we’d be able to even go back in the (fall) if it weren’t for the vaccine.”
Dajin Lee, a Rutgers Business School sophomore, said she is proud of the University for ensuring the Rutgers community’s safety by requiring vaccinations.
“I am a little concerned how this is going to be organized with most being on campus and some who were not able to receive vaccinations or choose not to, having to take online classes though,” she said.
Exemptions from vaccination are limited, with individuals being able to request them for medical or religious reasons, the Targum reported. Additional information regarding exemptions will be released in the upcoming days, according to a University-wide email.
Nicholas LaBelle, president of the Rutgers University Student Assembly and a Rutgers Business School senior, said in a statement that vaccines are the last step to bring the Rutgers community back on-campus and that the Assembly looks forward to working with the University in ensuring equitable and efficient vaccine distribution.
“That Rutgers is among the first universities in the country to make this decision makes me optimistic that this is just the first of many bold leadership decisions as we rear what is hopefully the final corner of this sobering chapter in our university history,” he said.