Academic senate passes resolution calling for vaccine mandate


A CMDHD employee administers the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Cassie Mistrzak's arm Feb. 17 in Finch Fieldhouse.

The Academic Senate Executive Board met virtually for an emergency meeting on Monday from 3-4:15 p.m. to discuss passing a resolution to call for a vaccine mandate for faculty, staff and students at Central Michigan University, effective immediately. 

The resolution, which passed 52-2 with seven who did not vote, is a call to university leadership to mandate the vaccine; no official policy has been passed.

CMU announced earlier this summer that classrooms will be at full capacity in the fall. Many classes will also be face-to-face with no virtual option.

President Davies attended the meeting and said after the vote that the resolution will be taken into account and a decision will be made “very quickly.”

Proceeding the vote was a discussion between senators regarding the need for a mandate and the wording of the resolution. Senator David Smith, of the Philosophy and Religion department, compared the vaccine mandate to CMU’s smoking ban in response to the argument of personal choice when it comes to vaccination.

 “Smoking is recognized as a personal choice in American society,” Smith said. “But CMU has taken a special stand in the name of public health considerations.“

“We want our students to learn to be responsible citizens and acting in a way that respects public health is a primary criteria.”

A petition calling for a vaccine mandate has 1,101 verified signatures, according to Senator Martha Frank. Frank read comments from faculty and staff who signed the petition.

“Safety as a guiding principle, should come first for students, faculty and staff at CMU.” Dr. Gustav Verhulsdonck said in a written comment.

Student comments reflected their desires to feel safe on campus and in classes. 

“I fear this year will be shut down just as it was at the beginning of the pandemic. I hope vaccinations will keep in-person learning open,” Sophomore Tracy Wilson commented on the petition.

President Davies responded by saying that he is pro-vaccine, but as a university leader he feels it is important to respect personal choice.

“Whatever the reasons are, there are people among our community who are not ready to be vaccinated,” Davies said. “I think it is important that we intentionally be inclusive, make room to accommodate the wide range of perspectives.”

Several senators voiced their support for the resolution vocally and through the chat function. Some concerns were brought up regarding the vaccine’s pending FDA approval but the discussion was overwhelmingly in favor of the resolution. 

Senators moved on to discussing an amendment to include medical and religious exemptions in the resolution, as well as weekly testing for those who opt out. The amendment was passed 51-3, with nine who didn’t vote.

Now that the resolution has passed, Davies and other campus leadership will make the final decision on whether or not to require vaccinations.