Marquette University President Lovell announced June 7 that students who will be attending classes during the 2021-22 academic school year must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Aug. 1 unless granted an exemption.
“Scientific evidence has shown that vaccines are safe and effective at reducing transmission of the virus. A vaccinated student population will allow us to provide you with a richer in-person experience, reduce testing and let you interact more freely across campus,” Lovell said in a Marquette Today release on June 7.
Students could be granted an exemption for religious reasons or a personal conviction. A medical exemption could also be granted with a note from a physician. If granted an exemption, unvaccinated students would still have to undergo mandatory COVID-19 testing every other week.
However, 92% of students have uploaded proof of vaccination as of Aug. 27.
Martilia Marechal, a junior in the College of Communication, said that the university’s vaccine requirement “makes sense,” since students became eligible to get the shot back in April.
Yet Marechal saw how people thought Marquette was setting a “double standard” back in June and July when only students were required to receive the vaccine, but not faculty or staff.
That changed Aug. 16 when the university announced in a statement that faculty were “strongly encouraged” to submit their proof of COVID-19 vaccination by Aug. 30.
Those that did not would have to be tested regularly for COVID-19, complete the daily COVID Cheq process and quarantine for 14 days if they came in contact with someone infected with COVID-19.
Medical authorities on campus, such as the Marquette University Medical Clinic, stand with the university’s decision on faculty and staff COVID-19 vaccinations.
“The Marquette University Medical Clinic is aligned with the university in strongly encouraging faculty and staff to get vaccinated for their safety and well-being and to help protect their colleagues, our students and the broader community,” AJ Grove, assistant director of the Marquette University Medical Clinic, said in an email.
This sentiment was echoed throughout the campus community.
“I agree with the university’s position of strongly encouraging all faculty and staff to get vaccinated, which is in alignment with CDC guidance,” Janet Krejci, dean of the College of Nursing, said in an email.
Faculty were also incentivized to get vaccinated with the chance to win certain prizes such as Marquette basketball tickets. Much like Marquette, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services and Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers offered incentives to get vaccinated.
Following the FDA approval of the Pfizer vaccine for individuals 16 and older, Aug. 23 Evers announced that Wisconsinites who received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine from a Wisconsin provider between Aug. 20 and Sep. 6 would receive a $100 VISA gift card.
The student vaccination requirement was a part of Marquette’s commitment to offer an in-person learning experience this summer. However, the COVID-19 situation worsened in Milwaukee, with the highly transmissible Delta variant.
And as a result, the Milwaukee Health Department strongly encouraged people, regardless of vaccination status, to wear a mask in public indoor settings.
Marquette followed suit and announced Aug. 17 that masks would be required in indoor spaces on campus, the only exceptions being students in their dorm room with their assigned roommate(s) and individuals with a private office.
Looking forward to the upcoming semester, Marechal is not only nervous about the emergence of the Delta variant while having in-person classes again, but also losing more of her social life because of it.
“Most people had negative mental health impacts due to quarantines/lockdowns, including myself, as well as not enjoying school as much,” Marechal said. “That, on top of not wanting to catch COVID, is enough to stress students to the max.”
However, Marechal said she is doing the best she can to take precautions, while also resuming some sort of normalcy in her social life.
“At the end of the day, the rules that the ‘COVID committee’ decides are out of our control, I just hope that everyone can abide by the rules despite vaccination status.”
This story was written by Claire Driscol and Megan Woolard. They can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com