GV students work through vaccine exemptions


Courtesy to GVSU

Elizabeth Schanz, Staff Writer

In light of Grand Valley State University’s vaccine mandate, the university is offering religious and medical exemptions for those who may need it. In order for individuals to receive these exemptions, they will have to fill out the appropriate form that can be found on the Lakers Together website. 

The deadline for the GVSU community to be fully vaccinated is Sept. 30, while exemptions must be submitted by Sept. 15. In order to be granted an exemption or postponement for religious or medical reasons, individuals must write why they wish to receive an exemption for either reason. In some cases, additional documentation may be required, according to the Lakers Together website.

The Virus Action Team (VAT) said via email that individuals who have applied for vaccination exemptions should receive responses on their approval or rejection of the exemption in five to seven business days. The VAT attributes the requirement of vaccination or getting an exemption as an important step in controlling COVID-19 especially with the spread of the Delta variant. 

“The health and safety of our students, faculty, staff and community are our top concerns,” the VAT said via email. “ Some areas with low vaccination rates are seeing significant increases in their case numbers, including hospitalization rates and intensive care unit occupancy.”

GVSU student Jocelyn Jones is currently in the process of applying for an exemption from the vaccine. Jones said that her exemption is rooted in religious grounds. 

“[The COVID-19 vaccination] is just not something I believe in, it’s something we’ve prayed about a lot,” Jones said. “In middle school, I didn’t get certain vaccines and stuff because that’s just not what I believe in.”

Jones said she appreciates GVSU’s effort to offer choices for their community. However, within the process, she found challenges in how to formulate a quality response for her exemption form. 

“The hardest part of filling it out [the exemption form] was finding a good way, in 2,000 characters to say why, religiously for me, I do not want to get the vaccine,” Jones said. 

GVSU became one of 1,014 universities requiring the COVID-19 vaccination, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education, creating a stir amongst many individuals in the GVSU community sparking Anti-Vax Facebook groups and “Don’t let GV Call my Shots” protests. Many of these individuals wanted the choice on whether or not they want the vaccination and their choice on whether or not to participate in asymptomatic testing. 

The VAT says that those who are granted an exemption are required to test weekly, although on the Lakers Together website under the current alert level (Level 2) it states that those who are not vaccinated are invited for testing. This inconsistency has created confusion amongst those who have been granted exemptions or are in the process of getting one.  

“I respect that if you are exempted that they [GVSU] want you to get tested every week,” Jones said. 

As GVSU continues to go through exemption forms, the university will not make public the number of those who have received an exemption in order to protect the privacy of those who have been granted an exemption or postponement, according to the VAT.