Students are smarter than the administrators give them credit for

The FDA is about to approve the Pfizer vaccine, which is good news. The timid beancounters who run this place had announced that they were just waiting for that final bureaucratic hurdle was cleared to declare that vaccination was required to enroll, a silly piece of posing by a bunch of people who have all been vaccinated for weeks to months already. We were supposed to wait for a box to be ticked on a form before making common sense requirements to protect student health? That’s nuts. It’s also been frustrating.

Other universities have already been requiring it, without that legalistic seal of approval, like U-Va. Here’s what I found interesting in that story:

The campus unveiled its vaccine mandate in May and the overwhelming majority of the campus is in compliance, officials said. More than 96 percent of U-Va. students are vaccinated against the coronavirus and 335 students with religious and medical exemptions have been granted permanent waivers, officials said.

An additional 184 temporary waivers were granted to students who have had trouble getting vaccinated but plan to get their shots upon arriving to campus.

Less than 1 percent of students enrolled — or 238 students — are not in compliance, “but only 49 of those students had actually selected courses, meaning that a good number of the remaining 189 may not have been planning to return to the university this fall at all, regardless of our vaccination policy,” said Brian Coy, a school spokesman.

First, a religious exemption? Why? Prayer is not protection. Piety is not an excuse to be a superspreader. I support the medical exemption — some students are immuno-challenged, for instance — but anything else is pandering nonsense.

But secondly, look at those numbers. While the administration has been wringing their hands and moaning about how we shouldn’t impose barriers to students coming to campus, the students have been smart and sensible and getting off their butts and getting vaccinated as soon as they could. I’m confident that UMM students are just as competent as U-Va students, and we’re going to find next week, when classes start, that the overwhelming majority are going to want the precautions, like masking and vaccine requirements, so they can protect their health while getting the education they need. I suspect the hesitation from on high is driven entirely by Republican assholes in the legislature with power over our budgets.


  1. says

    When I started college I had to get an MMR and a TB test. It was universally required. No big deal. Never heard of any religious exemption though. This was over 20 years ago though. Back before the worlds largest collection of sociopathic morons turned vaccines and masks into a political issue.

  2. numerobis says

    A friend in Illinois was mentioning her school has 80% compliance among staff and 60% among students… but that’s based on the paperwork they’ve processed. They’re way behind on that paperwork; she’s been vaccinated for months but they haven’t read her form yet.

    So it’s probably similar there too: incompetent administrators and largely reasonable students.

  3. Just an Organic Regular Expression says

    Meanwhile, my neighbor Stanford University not only requires vaccination for students and staff, but also plans weekly testing for everyone, regardless of vaccine status.

  4. hillaryrettig1 says

    yeah, that religious exemption stinks – esp. bc probably anyone can get one easily.

  5. brucegee1962 says

    At our community college, masks are mandatory for everyone, but vaccines or weekly testing are only required for faculty and staff. When it comes to students, we aren’t allowed to even ask if they’ve been vaccinated or not. We are wondering if we’ll get a surge of the unvaccinated who weren’t allowed to go to other schools.

  6. Akira MacKenzie says

    First, a religious exemption? Why?

    Because it would a PR nightmare [redneck accent] ifin’ one-a them thar godless commie uni-bars-cities done told a Christian patriot that they gotta war those Say-tan-ic masks.

    Once again, religion lets you get away with anything.

  7. whheydt says

    Slate has a good article up today about “religious exemptions”. Turns out that law in that area is (a) much murkier than most people (on either side of the issue) claim it to be, and (b) probably there is no requirement to actually allow a religious exemption.

  8. Sean Boyd says

    We were just helped out by Governor Inslee. Until just a few days ago, we were being allowed to go back onto campus unmasked, provided we were vaccinated. And, self-attestation to being vaccinated was the standard, as compared to producing the vaccine card. And, in addition to medical/religious exemptions, a provision for “philosophical objections” was also being allowed. Inslee has since mandated masks for all of us again, and eliminated the philosophical objections allowance. So I feel a teeny tiny bit better.

  9. atomjz says

    I sincerely hope my university has a similar high vaccination rates; it certainly doesn’t seem so when I see so many unmasked people around campus. Here in Iowa, the new anti-mask mandate has essentially forbidden us from even talking about masks in class, and we can’t enforce wearing them, or any kind of seating arrangement. The faculty here is freaking out at the looming disaster starting next week.

  10. anxionnat says

    California got rid of the “religious or philosophical” exemption in the Before Times (2019, I think). At the time, it was reported that Mississippi was the only other state not to allow such vaccination exemptions. Imagine being behind Mississippi in anything! Anyway, anti-vax docs started offering fake “medical exemptions”. All kids have to have received a list of vaccinations to attend public schools in Calif, so if a kid didn’t have a medical exemption, the only other options were home schooling and a few private schools. My understanding is that the relevant professional associations are cracking down on those docs who are offering reams of fake exemptions, but I don’t know how successful they have been. News articles reported about one doc in the LA area who was handing out fake exemptions to people all over the state. These fake exemptions can cause real problems: my niece attended a private school where vaccinations weren’t required, and there was a whooping cough outbreak. The school closed down for a couple of months, and over 50 kids got sick. My niece, unusually, was vaccinated, so the only thing that happened to her was missing some school. (Everybody in my family had put pressure on her parents–my brother and his wife–to get their kid vaccinated. Not that much was needed. They’d both known people who had had polio, and had been vaccinated as small children.)

  11. blf says

    @10, At the time, both Mississippi and W.Virginia did not allow exemptions for mythologies. Since California’s laws (plural) were passed, the Medical Board of California has started going after quacks issuing blatantly dubious “medical” exemptions, such as Dr “Bob” Sears, who was one (of several) loons selling “medical” exemptions without bothering to get a history or even examine the patient (as I said, blatant).

  12. birgerjohansson says

    I live in Sweden. I got my Pfizer shots early May and the middle of June.
    -After a less than stellar start the Swedish authorities got their shit together, and the students that are about to start are in a hurry to get their shots now (The availability has been linked to age groups, the oldest and those with other vulnerabilities getting vaccines first).

    I find it surprising that Pfizer has not been cleared for use in USA until now.
    If it is a matter of resources, the US authorities could simply rely on the studies made in Europe or Japan.

  13. birgerjohansson says

    To get a religious exemption, they should have to go the whole nine yards, participating in “snake-handling” ceremonies led by a priest approved by the university. Voodoo cetemonies getting soaked with blood of sacrificed livestock being optional.

  14. Ridana says

    Part of the religious exemption thing is for idiots who believe the vaccines contain aborted babby parts. And the courts have upheld the idea that it doesn’t matter if their belief is factual or not (like believing Plan B is an abortifacient), just that they “sincerely” believe it.

  15. jenorafeuer says

    Pfizer has been allowed for use in the U.S. under an ‘Emergency Use Authorization’ for months now; what the current announcement means is that it has officially passed all relevant investigations and is no longer considered ‘experimental’.

    The main effect of this will be to remove one possible talking point of some of the people trying to avoid getting vaccinated.