Covid-19 Vaccination Mandates: How the Students Feel on the Issue

Photo of college mail and Covid-19 vaccination card.

S. Friedlander

Photo of college mail and Covid-19 vaccination card.

SUNY schools have required all students and staff to receive the Covid-19 vaccine since July 30th, 2021. Current college students are being affected greatly by this requirement along with high school seniors beginning their college application process. Will this requirement stop students from attending SUNY schools? 

During a press briefing on May 10th, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo addressed the topic of both SUNY and CUNY schools mandating the vaccine.

 “Let’s make a global statement: You cannot go back to school in September unless you have the vaccine,” Governor Cuomo said “That will be a major motivation for people to get the vaccine, and if you have to get it by September, you may as well get it now,” Cuomo said.

This statement quickly became very controversial. It directly affects all hopeful and current college students. There was, and still is a strong divide between those who believe the mandate is just and those who see it as unfair.

“I don’t think that it’s fair to the student population to get a shot that hasn’t been around as long as others in order to have your right to be educated,” said Senior Kelsey Burke.

Apart from the abundant research and FDA approval on the Pfizer Vaccine, all Covid-19 vaccines are fairly new. Many just don’t feel comfortable, yet, receiving it. Kelsey Burke is a senior, planning on applying to a handful of SUNY schools, though she says she may not attend if she’s forced to receive a vaccine she is uncomfortable with. While there are other students on her side, some believe the mandate is important and should be strict.

“…I know someone who did not get vaccinated here [Binghamton University] who tested positive for Covid, and they had a much worse reaction to the virus than someone I know who tested positive but was already vaccinated,” said freshman SUNY Binghamton student Tyler Hawks. “So even if the vaccine is not 100% effective, it helps slow the spread of the disease and prevents people from experiencing the true symptoms of the virus,” he said.

Tyler is a current student at Binghamton University and a recent graduate of the district. He spoke about how his college experience was changed by the vaccine mandate for all those on campus. The CDC states “the vaccines help keep you from getting seriously ill even if you do get Covid-19.” Tyler Hawks received the vaccine for many reasons, with a main one being to help protect himself in case he came into contact with it. The mandates have opened up some windows at SUNY schools but students are still required to wear a mask, which is something many are upset over.

“I thought that being that everyone was vaccinated, we would have a normal experience without masks. However, this is not the case. We are required to wear a mask everywhere, we can’t have more than six people in our common area, and to top it off, we must now be tested monthly for Covid, even though everyone is vaccinated,” said a freshman student at Geneseo. 

At SUNY Geneseo, students are all required to have received the vaccine, even with this fact, a student stated that they are still tested for Covid every month. She then went on to say, “so what was the point?” This is something other students against the mandate are asking as well. Apart from all the controversy, the governor of New York is very set on the requirement staying in place for all SUNY schools.

“There is no factual argument against the vaccine, and there is no excuse not to get your shot. This vaccine is the weapon that will help us win the war on COVID, and so I urge everyone who still needs to take it to do so quickly at one of our many sites across the state,”  said Governor Cuomo.

Editor’s Note: As of the date of publication (November 17, 2021), New York’s new governor, Kathy Hochul seems to be upholding  the mandate for college students to be vaccinated. Her focus, at present, seems to be encouraging parents to have their children ages 5-11 vaccinated.