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MSU Professors Circulating Letter Urging University To Require Vaccine Proof, Testing

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Reginald Hardwick

Updated Wednesday, July 28, 6:27 p.m.

Two Michigan State University professors are circulating a letter to President Samuel Stanley Jr., urging the administration to tighten COVID-19 rules for the fall semester.

Economist Scott Imberman and Sarah Reckhow, a political scientist at MSU, are seeking a requirement that university faculty, staff and students provide proof of vaccination or be tested twice weekly.

Those not in compliance would not be allowed at in-person activities.

The letter stresses that while still not requiring shots, such a policy would help stop coronavirus outbreaks.

The emergence of the Delta variant has renewed the call for vaccination requirements. Six Big Ten universities will reportedly require proof of vaccination.

Imberman stresses that it isn’t just the faculty and staff at MSU seeking tougher rules for the fall semester.

Credit Zoom Image
MSU professor of economics Scott Imberman hopes Michigan State University will require either proof of vaccination or twice-weekly COVID-19 testing this fall.

“The State News, just the other day, put out an editorial that calls for more vaccination requirements on campus, so I think a lot of students are very nervous about what’s going to happen with COVID this semester.”

As of Wednesday morning, Imberman says more than 300 people have signed on in less than a day.

"We are running roughly about 50% faculty, 40% students, and a little under 10% staff, so it’s a pretty good mix,” he said.

Imberman says signatures will be gathered for several daysso the letter can be delivered to President Stanley early next week. Only people with MSU-associated email addresses are able to access the form.

The letter:

Dear President Stanley, When Michigan State University set the current policy on COVID-19 vaccinations, choosing not to require vaccination, U.S. case levels were promisingly low. Since then, the Delta variant of SARS-COV2 has led to renewed outbreaks in the U.S. There is substantial risk that once students, faculty, and staff return to our campus, cases will spread exponentially. Given the continually changing nature of the pandemic, MSU needs to be proactive in preventing new outbreaks on campus. The best way to do that is through vaccination. A wall of vaccination will not only help the university weather the current Delta variant-- it will provide us with a protective barrier against future variants. COVID-19 outbreaks on campus would present risks to many members of the MSU community for whom vaccines are not as effective, such as those who must take immunosuppressive medications, who are physically unable to get vaccinated, or who have people in their household who are ineligible for vaccination, such as children under the age of 12. There is still time to act to protect our campus community. Six of our peer institutions in the Big10 require vaccines. Members of our own campus community support a vaccine requirement; the University Council voted in favor of a vaccine requirement for students, faculty, and staff in May 2021. The State News published an editorial supporting a requirement. Purdue University has a vaccine policy that fits well with protocols we have already developed at MSU, including our COVID-19 Early Detection Program; Purdue requires either proof of vaccination or participation in routine COVID-19 testing for all students, faculty, and staff. We can build on these practices to develop a strong set of policies for the fall. We the undersigned students, faculty, and staff at Michigan State University, request that you implement the following policies to increase vaccination rates: 1) Require that all MSU faculty, staff and students upload proof of COVID-19 vaccination OR participate in twice-weekly testing through the MSU COVID-19 Early Detection Program. Without proof of vaccination or proof of negative test results, individuals would not be allowed to participate in in-person classes, activities, or work on campus. 2) Ensure adherence to quarantine and isolation protocols for members of the MSU community aligned with CDC and Ingham County Health Department guidelines. Unvaccinated individuals who are exposed to a close contact who tests positive for COVID-19 must quarantine for 10 to 14 days. Similarly, vaccinated individuals who are exposed do not need to quarantine unless they exhibit symptoms of COVID-19. 3) Make every effort to provide easy access to vaccinations for students, faculty, and staff through vaccination clinics with health professionals present to answer questions. Vaccination clinics should be offered at student orientation, dormitories, and strategic locations across campus during the Fall 2021 semester.

Scott Pohl has maintained an on-call schedule reporting for WKAR following his retirement after 36 years on the air at the station.
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