CUNY deals with vaccination non-compliance

Dani Heba

CUNY Chancellor Félix Matos Rodríguez announced on Aug. 25 that CUNY would implement a vaccine mandate for students to attend in-person or hybrid classes. These mandates have been implemented throughout all CUNY schools, to mixed reactions.

“I can’t overemphasize the urgency of following these guidelines and getting vaccinated today,” Matos Rodríguez said in his announcement. “It is the only sure way we have to safeguard the wellbeing of our community.”

The mandates were implemented with a 45-day window for unvaccinated students to get the vaccine and upload their proof of vaccination to CUNYfirst, with the final deadline to send in proof passing on Sept. 27.

Only those who have a valid medical or religious reason received exemption.

Matos Rodríguez also acknowledged that those who chose not to get vaccinated were in for the possibility of a “detrimental effect” on their academic futures at CUNY.

This includes unvaccinated students who don’t have a valid extension being dropped from their in-person or hybrid classes.

Many CUNYs have communicated this message to their students via email and website announcements, along with announcements posted around their campuses.

At John Jay College, students were provided with a plethora of emails and announcements regarding the mandates. The college had professors communicate these requirements with students.

John Jay also has a webpage linking PDFs with announcements regarding COVID-19 updates from CUNY Central.

Joseph Mac, a sophomore majoring in criminal justice at John Jay, described the mandates as being very hard on unvaccinated students.

“Unvaccinated students and staff seem to have it very hard,” Mac said in a written interview. “From classes getting dropped to having to take a COVID-19 test every time they wish to enter the building, the repercussions are tough. The school could take a more lenient and less intimidating approach.”

Mac also said the way that John Jay handled the mandates isn’t too popular, as the mandate itself is not popular among students. Many believe it should be the choice of the individual to decide whether to be vaccinated, according to Mac.

“As far as I know, the mandate is not too popular,” he said. “The consensus is, yes it’s good to get vaccinated, but it has to be your decision free from pressure or external motivation.”

At Hunter College, the vaccine mandate and its implementation are also questionable to some of its students.

Similar to John Jay, Hunter has a webpage linking announcements and CUNY’s FAQ regarding COVID-19 restrictions. It also sent out emails, put posters in the school’s halls and sent notifications on CUNYFirst.

Chris Cardinali, a sophomore majoring in economics at Hunter, is also not a fan of the mandates or how his college implemented it. He said believes that students should retain the right to make their decision on vaccination without being treated differently.

“It’s get vaxxed or get axed,” Cardinali wrote about the mandates. “Similarly to the people, I believe that the vaccination should be a choice. Everyone should have the freedom to make their own choices pertaining to their bodies.”

However, Mann Patel, a sophomore majoring in computer science at Hunter, believes that unvaccinated students were treated fairly, arguing that they have alternatives, such as online classes, and were given decent notification of the requirement to get vaccinated.

“I believe students should be given more time to view their options and given more leeway as to being forced to be vaccinated,” Patel said. “However, I have no major issue with how the school handles the mandates.”

Heading across the city to City College, the school has, like John Jay and Hunter, sent out emails to students informing them of the mandates. The college also has a blog page chronologically organizing the latest COVID-19 announcements.

Ayashah Anwar, a junior majoring in sociology at City, supports the mandates and how they have been implemented in her school.

“I like the mandate,” Anwar said in a written interview. “I like knowing that everyone I’m around is vaccinated and wearing a mask. It makes me feel safe.”

She also said that unvaccinated students are not being treated unfairly because the mandate is a matter of public health.

“People who aren’t vaccinated are being selfish,” Anwar said.