Rutgers recently became the first college in the country to make the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine mandatory for all students looking to return to campus in the fall. Students discussed the impact that this decision had on their housing plans as well as their feelings toward living on-campus again.
Insiya Zaidi, a School of Arts and Sciences first-year, said she currently lives on campus and was already planning to apply for fall 2021 housing prior to this announcement. Though, this recent action by the University has still given her relief and has allowed her to feel safer about living on campus in the fall with the return of more students.
“I was going to make sure that I am vaccinated to stay protected (but) knowing that everyone around me is also vaccinated is relieving,” she said.
In addition, Zaidi said that one of the biggest reasons she ultimately decided to live on-campus, rather than off-campus, was due to the fact that everyone on campus will be required to be vaccinated.
Another student, Amy Smith, a School of Arts and Sciences first-year, plans to live on-campus in the fall as well and also said the vaccine mandate makes her feel safer as a student. She said she hopes that the requirement will make for a more lively campus environment.
“I'm looking forward to living with my friend instead of alone, and being able to hang out with people in each other's dorms regularly,” she said. “I haven't signed up (for) housing yet, but I'm planning to live in (the Newell Apartments), and my only concern about that is the fact that it's not air conditioned. As far as (COVID-19) goes, I think it will all be safe.”
Julia Hyman, a School of Arts and Sciences first-year, and an immunocompromised individual, said she feels much more comfortable about living on-campus next year since the University announced the decision to require the vaccine. She chose to live on-campus in order to get the college experience, and now she feels that she can do it safely.
“Before, I was hesitant to move onto campus because I was worried about catching (COVID-19) — even though I am vaccinated, it is not fully effective on me since I have no antibodies in my system — or giving it to other people who aren't vaccinated,” Hyman said.
Additionally, she said the vaccine mandate has allowed her to feel more confident about living with a roommate rather than in a single room as well as feel more comfortable using communal bathrooms.
Ally Boehm, a School of Arts and Sciences first-year, said the vaccine mandate is welcome news after spending her first year of college remotely. As a fully vaccinated individual, she said was she already looking for housing options in the fall, but the announcement of the mandate made her feel more confident in her decision.
“As a first-year student, not moving to campus was extremely difficult, yet I did not feel it was safe to move out earlier this year. I was hoping for this fall that vaccines would be at least recommended,” she said. “When Rutgers was the first school to announce that they would require it, I felt so relieved. I felt that I could be finally safe on campus.”
Boehm said she is excited to live among her peers in Douglass Residential College’s Global Village in the fall where she will be able to meet new people as well as be a part of a community. Zaidi said that while she is not yet sure where she will be living on campus in the fall, she said she is looking forward to being able to live with friends again.
“I’m looking forward to seeing my roommate that I have become close with and living in the city of New Brunswick” Hyman said. “I don’t have any concerns or comments about where I’m living except that I’m excited for the new experience.”