Montclair State University students received an email on Thursday, April 22 announcing that coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccinations will be required for all returning students for the upcoming fall 2021 semester.
The news caused many students to share their opinions and wonder what this meant for the faculty at the university.
President Susan Cole says it is still unclear if the university can issue a mandate requiring faculty to be vaccinated.
“There probably will not be, although I can’t say for certain,” Cole said. “At this point in time, the state of the law would suggest that we cannot mandate it for faculty.”
As of 10 a.m. on Thursday, May 7, 1,415 of Montclair State’s faculty and staff have been vaccinated. In addition, 750 students have already received the Pfizer vaccine on campus and around 100 students are receiving their vaccines at Livingston Mall, according to Montclair State Vice President for Communications and Marketing Joseph Brennan.
“There will be another opportunity for students to get vaccinated on campus and we have already made the arrangements for students to be able to get their second shot,” Cole said.
Zoe Burkholder, a professor from the College of Education and Human Services, thinks the vaccine requirement is a great idea.
“It’s how we can all keep each other safe, while also boosting herd immunity in the broader community,” Burkholder said.
A senior communication and media arts student, Hailey Rooney, was asked how she felt about a vaccine requirement before the announcement was made and she thought it was a good call as well.
“To keep the campus safe, I think Montclair [State] should require vaccinations in the fall,” Rooney said.
Since the university required flu vaccines in the fall of 2020, Rooney assumed they would do the same for the COVID-19 vaccinations for the fall 2021 semester.
On the other hand, there are students and faculty who do not necessarily agree with the vaccine requirement.
A professor at Montclair State, who preferred to remain anonymous, thinks the COVID-19 vaccine should not be required.
“I imagine that pathways exist for those with serious concerns,” the professor said. “At the heart of it though, a college education is a choice that a person makes. It is not forced upon you and institutions are well within their rights to decide how best to keep their students safe.”
The professor has no problem getting the vaccine themselves, thinking it’s like any other vaccine requirement, but does not think it should be mandatory for students.
Ashley Koutras, a junior television and digital media major, got the vaccine out of choice since she will be working at a hospital over the summer but also thinks the vaccine should not be required.
“We have other vaccinations that have been tested for years and we’re approved. The COVID-19 vaccine is an emergency response and should not be required,” Koutras said.