By Nicolas Rontanini
When the pandemic broke out, on-campus operations suddenly changed, resulting in an experience no one could have predicted. After being remote for so long, we wanted to return to normal campus operations. When the vaccine started getting produced, we saw a light at the end of the tunnel, and returning to in-person classes signaled a change for the better. Many schools face a different decision of whether or not students should be required to receive a coronavirus vaccination. Some universities, including the nearby SUNYs and CUNYs and Hofstra University, have required the vaccine in order for students to return to in-person classes this fall. Given that Adelphi is lifting Covid restrictions around campus, as outlined in an email last month from Gene Palma, vice president of University Wellness, Safety and Administration, it may face the question of whether it should follow suit.
I understand why schools are requiring the vaccine. We all wanted to return to campus life as we knew it before Covid hit. The availability of the vaccine makes that possible, and since people would be closer together on campus, schools want to protect the health of their students. As part of the restrictions that Adelphi rolled back, vaccinated students can remove their masks indoors and outdoors, while also giving the option to continue wearing one if needed or preferred. Adelphi wants to protect the well-being of their students, which is why they are rolling back Covid-related restrictions. Since New York state reached about 54 percent of the population fully vaccinated, they are able to return some sense of normal to campus life. We would have the chance to start to put the pandemic behind us, and get back to the campus life we longed for. Mandating a requirement of the vaccine would achieve this goal, but perhaps people feel more comfortable making a decision when it’s made voluntarily, and not because they feel as though they have no choice.
However, the question still remains whether Adelphi should mandate a vaccine requirement. I find myself with mixed emotions about it. Receiving the vaccine would help avoid having to reinstate the coronavirus restrictions, but some have been bothered by the requirement of it by several schools. I suppose being required to do something can feel constraining. However, by not receiving the vaccine, someone could run the risk of catching the virus. Adelphi is doing something similar to other schools by making appointments available on campus to get vaccinated. I feel that Adelphi could follow suit with other schools and use incentives to encourage students to get the vaccine, like the possibility of winning a prize with a ticket received from getting the vaccine. Part of how Adelphi is incorporating this is entering students into an incentive program when they upload proof of vaccination voluntarily, which can encourage students to get vaccinated. While this is the case, Adelphi likely won’t mandate the vaccine unless fully approved by the FDA, which as of yet, hasn’t happened.
It’s important to keep in mind what incentives would be used, then. Every student is different, and the same incentives might not work for everybody. Admittedly, this can be problematic. Deciding what incentives to use and how they would work can cause some issues. Of course, some incentives might not be what people are looking for. Requiring students to get vaccinated eliminates this problem, but that might not bode well with the entire community. But why aren’t students getting vaccinated? People have expressed uncertainty regarding the possible side effects the vaccine could bring, or the threat level of the pandemic. For any uncertainty, I can tell you that the vaccine is safe, and can help end an unprecedented public health crisis.
This is a complicated issue, and one that doesn’t easily open itself to solutions. Many factors play a role, making a solution somewhat difficult to come by. There is no one answer that will solve the problem. But at the end of the day, all that really matters is the best interest of Adelphi staff and students. Adelphi may have to make a decision, but I have confidence they will stand by their community.