Letter to the Editor: GVSU vaccine mandate concerns

Thomas Frye

Editor’s note: The views in this Letter to the Editor don’t follow those of the Lanthorn Editorial Board. This Letter to the Editor has been published to start a healthy dialogue between those who have received the COVID-19 vaccine and those who are still hesitant.  

Dear GVSU Community,

As all Grand Valley State University students know, we are required to take the COVID-19 vaccine in order to be a part of the GVSU community. It seems that not everyone in the community is on the same page with this decision, however. There have been many students that still have concerns not with the vaccine specifically, but with the fact that it is being mandated. 

We, as a community, need to come together and start discussing the measures we are taking for mitigation. So far throughout this two-year pandemic, we’ve not been able to have much discussion or interaction with our school leaders. Students that feel underrepresented in the community are now speaking up. A petition was started on change.org by student, Haley Demitroff, to start a dialogue. 

“What’s the point of forcing us to put something in our body that we may not feel comfortable doing if we can still spread  and get it?” Demitroff wrote. “Those who haven’t if they do get it are all 18 to 22 year old who will most likely fight it off and not die. Roughly 1% (actually .43% for 18-29 yrs) of those who have had it have died in the whole United States.” 

With over 6,000 signatures in just four days, the petition is certainly taking off and the points mentioned are worth considering. 

A Facebook group called “Open Up GVSU” has over 1,000 members with many parents and students active in applying for exemptions and helping one another get approved.

There is also an effort by GVSU student, Amanda Born, to set up a website that is not able to be tampered with or taken down by tech companies. She has also been organizing rallies trying to connect the students who are opposed to the mandates. More information is available in a full interview with her on the “OPEN UP GVSU” Facebook page.

One issue with the vaccine is that immunity wanes leading to the need for boosters and the vaccine may need to be altered for variants. I understand that some people may want protection. The vaccine is intended to protect them. Many are confused as to the reasoning for the mandate. 

I have had coronavirus. While the virus can be bad, the data on how often it hospitalizes college students is not given to us by our virus action team. .003% of cases are in college-age students. We need this information so that we can decide how much of a risk the virus is to us. Those numbers don’t seem to support the efforts being taken to eradicate the virus.

Those that want protection have protection. I do not want protection and I do not feel protected when protection is being mandated. Other students and many parents of students feel the same. Legislation may soon be calling these mandates into question. 


Thomas Frye

GVSU Student

Editor’s note: Grand Valley State University mandates that students, faculty and staff be vaccinated by Sept. 30 unless approved for an exemption. Students can upload their vaccination status in mybanner.