With Rutgers requiring COVID-19 vaccines for students next fall, could UNL follow suit?
Rutgers University became the first public university to announce they would require students to be vaccinated before they can return to campus next fall.
LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – This week, Rutgers University became the first public university to announce they would require students to be vaccinated before they can return to campus next fall.
A message from the Rutgers president Jonathan Holloway states “with limited exceptions, all students planning to attend in the fall 2021 semester must be fully vaccinated.”
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln does not have such a policy in place, but if the university were to implement one, students say reaction on campus would be mixed.
“I think if the vaccine were to open up more opportunities, then people would be willing to get it and willing to have it be required to come back to campus,” sophomore Mason Malecha said.
“I think it would be well accepted by a large population of the student body, but at the same time, I feel like not all of us would be into it,” sophomore Martin Little said.
“If they required it, I know I’d sit long and hard and think about whether or not I want to get it because I don’t like the idea of being forced to get something like that,” says freshman Caleb Pruss-Hansen.
While both Rutgers and UNL are public Big Ten universities, UNL chief communication and marketing officer Deb Fiddelke says they differ in the way that they have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Obviously New Jersey is in a different situation than Nebraska,” Fiddelke said. “Rutgers has been largely remote. We’ve been the most in-person school with our academic delivery within the Big Ten.”
Fiddelke cites low positivity rates on campus and a significant number of campus personnel already being vaccinated as reasons why there is no plan to have a vaccine requirement at UNL, although it will be strongly recommended.
“We strongly believe in the benefits of the vaccine and and had very strong participation among our faculty and staff to get the vaccine when it was offered,” she said. “We’re hoping when the opportunity arises for our students, we will see very strong participation from them as well. At this point, we are just planning to really encourage it, but not require it.
UNL is planning on returning to full in-person learning this fall. The expectation is that the saliva testing that has been used this semester will be offered, but will be voluntary. More information regarding a potential mask requirement will be released later in the summer.