Vaccine Forums Discuss Potential Mandate for Spring 2022

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Southern Utah University students were given the opportunity to share their opinions about the possibility of a vaccine mandate with faculty via Zoom on Tuesday, Sept.14. This was the second forum, following the one held Monday.

58 administrative individuals attended the forum including Interim President Mindy Benson; Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Jon Anderson, Director of Athletics Debbie Corum, Vice President for Student Affairs Jared Tippets and Student Body President Nouman Kante.

The administration stated that strong opinions had been heard from both sides of the argument the previous day, but Tuesday’s discussion spoke strongly against a mandate.

If a mandate is put in place, all students would be required to be vaccinated by the 2022 spring semester, unless they had filed for exemption under religious, medical, or personal reasons. The exemptions required by Utah state law led students to ask the question of why they have a mandate at all. 

During the discussion, Caden Cannon, a pro-vaccine student who is against a mandate, stated that “It’s our duty to defend the rights of people who believe differently than us.”

Benson also stated her hesitancy at the idea of mandating the vaccine, despite being fully vaccinated herself.

While most spoke against the mandate, a few, including student Rebecca Villalobos, are in favor of a mandate.

“If you can get different exemptions, why do you care if there’s a mandate,” Villalobos argued.  “You can just get an exemption for it, and then other people can be encouraged to get the vaccine.”

Concerns about bullying, segregation, and academic success were also brought to attention as students grappled with the possibilities of the mandate taking effect.

Another concern expressed was in relation to the validity of the student voice. 

However, Tippets assured students, “This is not in vain, we want you to be heard.”

While it appears opinions were heard, questions were not. Many of the questions posed were left unanswered, and of the answers that were given, many were ambiguous, leaving most of the conversations to run in circles.

Though hoping to hear from many more students, the administration’s decision is predicted to be out before spring registration, allowing students to make decisions about their future with SUU.

Those who were not able to attend the forum can still express their opinion by taking SUU’s five question survey on the front page of the SUU portal. 

Article by Audrey Gee:

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