Baruch athletes divided on booster requirement


Spencerbdavis | Wikimedia Commons

Regina Kelley

All SUNY and CUNY students must get the booster shot by March 1 to return to in-person classes, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced as part of the Winter Surge Plan 2.0 on December 31.

Soon after, on Jan 5., CUNY Chancellor  Félix Matos Rodríguez sent out a system-wide email informing students they had to get the booster.

Some student athletes said they will not comply with the mandate, including Baruch College senior basketball player Jack Reese.

“I feel like I don’t need it, I am a healthy 21-year-old student-athlete,” he told The Ticker.

He went on to say the majority of severe cases of COVID-19 occur among the elderly and immunocompromised. He said he doesn’t think that the booster should be mandated for Baruch students as they are, “one of the least at-risk populations on Earth.”

“I think it’s pretty divisive, but our team as a whole sticks pretty well together,” Reese said when asked about how the requirement is affecting the basketball team.

He said he believes the individual should choose whether they want to take the booster, as people may have religious beliefs or other reasons that prevent them from taking it. Baruch does allow religious exemptions in some cases, though.

Reese also said he knows underclassmen who don’t want the booster but will because they still have so much time left in school and sports. Reese, on the other hand, is in his final semester and said he feels like if anyone should stand up, it should be him.

Other athletes, though, don’t mind the booster mandate.

One softball player said, “If you got the first two shots, why not a third?”

Another men’s basketball player told The Ticker he didn’t care if it was mandated, but was annoyed that the day he got the shot he had a game. He was so nauseous he had to sit out for most of it.

“Yes, I’m getting the booster because the school requires it, though I want to look out for my peers and keep as many people healthy as possible,”  Erica Sheludenko, a sophomore tennis player, told The Ticker.

She also said she doesn’t think mandating it is necessary, as students already need to be vaccinated and follow certain protocols, even while playing sports.

“I’m already vaccinated, and I think at a certain point it’s important to build up a natural immunity to a virus that looks like it will be sticking around for a while,” Sheludenko said.

Most Baruch athletes that The Ticker spoke to said they don’t want to take the booster but will in order to continue playing sports.

“I don’t want to get the booster; for my age the booster is unnecessary,” Jehmehl Fair, a junior on the men’s basketball team, said. “But to continue playing basketball and for me to graduate, I’m going to have to get it.”

He also said the booster shouldn’t be mandated, especially because Baruch faculty don’t need to get it; they only need to be vaccinated, according to the new mandate for the spring 2022 semester.

“It isn’t right to mandate the booster for students, especially when the faculty doesn’t have to get it and they are the older population at Baruch and older populations are more inclined to get severe cases of COVID,” Fair said.

Fair has a lot of older relatives that he said he wanted to protect and that’s why he got the first two shots. But he thinks mandating a third is going too far because people can get sick despite having the booster.

He said that his team already lost one player partially due to the booster requirement.

“Because the deadline to get the shot is March 1, we were able to keep two pivotal players a little longer who helped us advance in the playoffs,”  he said.