Rutgers University in New Jersey has sparked significant backlash after announcing its intention to disenroll students who fail to provide proof of COVID vaccination. This decision has drawn criticism, particularly in light of the CDC’s acknowledgment that the vaccines may not entirely prevent virus transmission.
Despite President Joe Biden ending the national emergency in response to the pandemic in April, Rutgers took the unprecedented step of requiring students to be vaccinated for enrollment in the fall of 2021. This move garnered attention as the first such requirement by a U.S. university, despite the lower risk COVID poses to young individuals.
Rutgers has a history of implementing stringent pandemic measures. During 2020 and 2021, the university maintained some of the strictest lockdown and mask mandates, even as other institutions sought ways to return to normalcy. Those who questioned these measures often faced labels as anti-science or politically motivated. This environment led to self-censorship among students, with the fear of damaging relationships or community standing.
Critics have strongly condemned Rutgers’ approach to COVID vaccine mandates. Outkick’s Ian Miller labeled the university as one of the most anti-science major institutions in the country. Newsweek compared Rutgers’ vaccine policy to the controversial beer brand Bud Light, highlighting the institution’s stringent stance. The policy even affects those granted rare religious or health exemptions, potentially impacting their on-campus accommodations.
The decision by Rutgers University has fueled a broader debate about the balance between public health measures and individual freedoms in the context of the ongoing pandemic.