On Friday, Oct. 1 Interim President Mindy Benson announced that Southern Utah University will not mandate the COVID-19 vaccine for the spring 2022 semester.
In an email sent out to students, Benson wrote, “We have determined it would not be prudent for our institution – at this time – to implement a vaccine requirement for students.” However, in a subsequent statement she wrote, “In the meantime, we strongly encourage and ask you to become vaccinated.”
The decision was made after the university analyzed three faculty forums, two student forums and a COVID survey administered to the whole SUU community.
On Sept. 21, Vice President of Student Affairs Jared Tippets released the results of the COVID survey. Students, faculty, staff and administrators were asked to rank questions on a sliding scale of 1-7, with one being strongly opposed and seven being strongly in favor of the posed question.
The first question revealed that the majority of the 3,197 respondents believed that SUU should implement a vaccine requirement that adheres to the guidelines of Utah Law. The responses to the posed question “If Utah law permits universities to require students to get a vaccine as long as SUU allows for exemptions” had 1,303 or 40.8% of respondents indicating being strongly in favor and 850 respondents being strongly opposed.
Another question asked, “If a university COVID vaccine requirement is implemented for students to what extent would it influence your personal vaccine choice?” Out of the 2,337 responses 763 or 32.6% of respondents were strongly in favor and 642 or 27.5% were strongly opposed.
Since Jan. 2020, the survey indicated that 69% of respondents had not tested positive for COVID while 19.1% of respondents had. The survey also revealed that of the 3,201 total respondents 65.2% of the respondents are fully vaccinated while 20.1% are not vaccinated and do not intend to receive the vaccine at any time.
Of the 3,201 respondents, 71.1% were students, 16.7% were staff or administrators and 12.2% were faculty.
SUU’s Health and Wellness Center and the Southwest Public Health Department will be providing three more vaccination clinics for SUU studentson Oct. 26, Nov. 9 and Dec. 7.
Story by: Danielle Meuret