Students around the state feel safer with COVID-19 vaccine mandates


Valerie Wojciechowski

Courtesy / Valerie Wojciechowski

Jamie Wilson, Staff Writer

Universities across the state are requiring daily health screenings, masks indoors on campus, and vaccination of all students. Three Michigan universities, University of Michigan Ann Arbor, Oakland University and Grand Valley State University were evaluated on their COVID-19 policies and statistics. All three schools showed a slight recent increase in positive COVID-19 cases. 

“We attribute the latest rise in COVID-19 cases on campus to an increase in travel from fall break, as well as social gatherings moving indoors without masks,” said UofM spokesperson Kim Broekhuizen.

U-M does not attribute any of these positive cases to in-person classroom activities. OU had its fall break between Oct. 21 and 25. Subsequently, the university’s number of COVID-19 positive cases shot up the week of Oct. 24. GVSU’s positive COVID-19 cases increased slightly between Oct. 24 and 31, the week following fall break.

All three schools require their students, faculty, and staff to be vaccinated. The only exceptions to this are for those with medical or religious exemptions. UofM has currently accepted 754 religious or medical exemptions, while GVSU has accepted over 2,000 and OU has accepted around 1,300. 

GVSU senior Faith Davis said she saw the vaccine mandate as positive.

“It increases the chance of a COVID-19 free campus and definitely made me feel safe going on campus this semester,” Davis said.

Overall, Faith feels confident in GVSU’s COVID-19 action plan, stating that the number of GVSU’s COVID-19 positive cases are substantially lower than they were this time last year.

“I feel like the vaccine mandate is necessary for everyone to be back on campus in-person,” said UofM student Dominic Balice. “If people want a normal life again, they need to do their part in achieving that. I understand there are extreme circumstances, so the school has allowed exemptions, but those with exemptions are required to take weekly COVID-19 tests to ensure the safety of others.”

Balice said he is confident in his school’s COVID-19 action plan, as he believes there is not much more that could be done and that the school’s positive COVID-19 cases have been consistently low all year.

This is true for nearly every school, as even the recent increase in cases is only single digits, compared to the tens of positive cases for most schools in the winter 2021 semester. Despite the vaccine mandate, Rebecca Topor, a junior at OU, feels OU is being too lenient throughout the process.

“Although vaccines were required for staff and students, Oakland University allows several exemptions and has also extended the deadline to receive the first dose, let alone requiring a full vaccination status,” Topor said.

For many students, the vaccine mandate makes them feel safer, but vaccines alone will not prevent the spread. Rebecca emphasizes the importance of wearing masks indoors on campus too.

“The staff at Kresge Library work hard to make sure students in the facility are wearing masks, yet many students continue to not wear masks indoors on campus despite these orders,” Topor said. “I believe the university is taking steps in ensuring the health and safety of all of their students yet have not been strict enough in terms of vaccination status.”

Across the board, students expressed the want to feel safe on their campuses- from COVID-19 and any other threats.