It is one of the first US universities to do such a mandate, as schools begin preparing to return to campus life after a year of remote or hybrid learning due to the pandemic.
“This health policy update means that, with limited exceptions, all students planning to attend fall semester 2021 must be fully immunized.”
Students can apply for an exemption for medical or religious reasons, the university said. Otherwise, proof of immunization will be required for all students attending face-to-face classes.
Hoping for a ‘sense of normalcy on campus’
Arielle Dublin, vice president of the Rutgers University Student Assembly, said she supports the school’s decision.
Dublin, a senior, served on the university’s “reset committee” of faculty, administrators and students, which made suggestions to Antonio Calcado, Rutgers executive vice president and chief operating officer.
“I think at the end of the day, the goal is for students to come back and have a sense of normalcy on campus,” Dublin told CNN. “And to really have that sense of normalcy on campus, you have to recognize that we have to take care of our bodies and make sure everyone around us is okay too.”
Is it legal to demand the vaccine?
Colleges, like certain employers, may require vaccinations, and the Covid-19 vaccine really is no exception, said Renee Mattei Myers, a Pennsylvania attorney.
“They can demand it, but they must have processes in place for exceptions,” Myers said, for example, for medical and religious reasons.
“From what we know about vaccines at this time, it is a very favorable proposition to get vaccinated,” said Dr. Howard Forman, director and founder of the MD / MBA program at Yale School of Medicine. “But, in keeping with the principles of biomedical ethics, you really want to be able to protect individual choice on the matter as much as possible.”
“At this point, although there is still legal uncertainty, my view is that the balance of factors supports the ability of employers (or states) to require US vaccines,” Reiss wrote. “Courts vary, but my current assessment is that most courts would be inclined to uphold an employer mandate for a US COVID-19 vaccine.”
Survey: Many students agree that universities have the right to demand vaccines
Hayley Slusser, editor-in-chief of Rutgers student-run newspaper The Daily Targum, called the university’s decision “the right choice.”
Although she has not yet been vaccinated, she said she will when it becomes available to her.
“Safety is really important,” Slusser, who will be a senior this fall, told CNN. “As someone traveling to school and living with a high-risk person, I would feel more comfortable knowing that everyone on campus is vaccinated and we would not contribute to anyone getting sick on campus (with Covid-19) ever again.”
Nicholas F. LaBelle, president of the Rutgers University Student Assembly, also described the university’s mandate as “the right decision.”
“We look forward not only to working with the University administration to achieve this goal, but also to ensuring that vaccine distribution is equitable, efficient, and sets an example for peer institutions,” LaBelle said in a statement.
“Through shared vigilance and unity, Rutgers will return as the beloved community we have nurtured through these tumultuous times and move toward a brighter tomorrow.”