SUNY Chancellor talks vaccine mandate

Written by Emily Squires | |

SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras came to SUNY Broome Campus on Tuesday to discuss the vaccine mandates that all SUNY schools adopted in response to Covid-19. The mandate is to ensure that every student attending school this fall is fully vaccinated, those who refuse to do so will be unenrolled. The deadline for confirming your vaccination status with SUNY is on September 27th. 

Chancellor Malatras confirmed that being unenrolled is not a punishment to the refusing students, simply it is an act of safety for every other student who choose education. He expressed the unfortunate circumstances that unenrolling the refusing students must be done in order to get the on campus student population to 100% vaccinated.

Malatras says the goal is to bring campus life and student experiences back. To do this SUNY schools across the state adopted the CDC guidelines; If you are vaccinated a mask is not required. However, with the current rise in the Delta variant of Covid-19, SUNY has currently enforced the use of masks regardless of vaccination status until the transmission rates lower. Broome County is currently mandating the same rule for all county buildings, this includes SUNY Broome Campus. SUNY has been advocating for the federal government to open up more international travel programs. Study abroad programs did not open this fall semester because of the unknowing covid rates in various countries. Regardless, by Spring 2022, study abroad programs are hopeful to return.

The Chancellor reminded us of the covid-19 testing that SUNY has been providing; Which monitors the transmission rates in the surrounding areas. With this, he adds, we can see when the Delta variant has lessened. With a student population fully vaccinated by the end of September, if the delta variant lessens in the data then can the use of masks become optional. “Social distancing has been a lesser factor- since many rooms have had, if they had not had them already, H-VAC air filtration units. It allows the air to regulate as it does so on an airplane. The most vital piece here is to receive the vaccine and wear your mask.”

The September 27th deadline for vaccinating students is not a terribly strict mandate. If a student is in the process of receiving their second dose, having to set up an appointment that extends beyond the deadline- that student will not be unenrolled, if it is completed in a fair time. Students who do not have their first dose already are encouraged to receive the Johnson and Johnson vaccine as it is only one dose, allowing vaccine completion before the deadline. Any student who wishes to learn more about the vaccine can visit the SUNY website to review Vaccine Facts. Malatras said that, “the virus thrives on dis-information,” and it is in your power to receive the proper information about the vaccine.

There have been concerns about the already dropping enrollment rate, and unenrolling students who do not wish to receive the vaccines furthers the concern. Malatras shared that this decline has existed for about a decade; compared to thirty years ago, high school graduates are not enrolling in college right away like they once had. Covid entering the picture in 2020 only increased the rate of this decline. Malatras is hopeful that these unenrolled students might be able to return in the future. For now it is about ensuring that students who are choosing to continue school are provided with every opportunity to be safe on campus.

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