CMU Academic Senate calls for vaccine mandate with petition
In a statement on Tuesday, the Central Michigan University Board of Directors of the Faculty Association voiced their support for a resolution put forth by the Academic Senate Executive Board that would require vaccination for all eligible faculty, staff and students.
A petition on Change.org, started by faculty, cited rising cases of the virus' Delta variant and the low rates of vaccinations among students, staff and faculty reported by President Bob Davies in an email on Monday, Aug. 2 as reasons for the vaccine mandate. The petition currently has around 400 signatures.
CMU's Faculty Association President Amanda Garrison, said the Board of Directors originally agreed on a neutral stance towards a vaccine mandate to avoid alienating the approximately 30 percent of unvaccinated faculty members. On Tuesday, the board released a statement in support of the mandate but do not represent all faculty in that support.
“We want the best possible circumstances for the community, not just CMU,” Garrison said. “We have thousands of young ones coming back here. This area is not prepared to deal with something of this scale at all.”
Fall 2020 did see an increase in COVID-19 cases when students began to return to campus. Steve Hall, a health officer from the Central Michigan District Health Department said this is expected to happen again due to low vaccination rates in Michigan and Isabella County.
“I'd like to say that we weren't going to expect that, especially considering that there's a vaccine available,” Hall said. “But if you follow what's going on in the country, the Delta variant is so transmissible. Its wreaked havoc across the country.”
According to Hall, 46.1 percent of Isabella residents over the age of 12 are vaccinated. The age group with the lowest vaccination rate is 16-19 at 19.7 percent. However, Hall said this data may be skewed because college students who were counted in the census, may have gotten their vaccines in their hometowns where it wouldn’t have been reported to CMDHD.
“We are facing somewhat of a perfect storm in terms of the Delta variant making its arrival here in Michigan right at the time we're looking at kids going back to school,” Hall said. “If you see roughly 50 percent of people fully vaccinated, there's certainly reason to worry in terms of seeing a large surge in cases again.”
Several Michigan colleges and universities have announced that they will be requiring proof of vaccination in order to return to campus, including the University of Michigan, Michigan State University and Wayne State University.
Grand Valley State University will require students, staff and faculty to be vaccinated by Sept. 30 and will require masks indoors for everyone. Garrison said GVSU’s decision kickstarted the petition at CMU.
“Nobody really thought GVSU was going to do that,” Garrison said. “So when they did; that's a sibling institution. That was what started this, we've been watching, everybody's watching.”
An emergency meeting of the Academic Senate e-board will be held today where members will discuss if and how to bring a resolution to the floor and to set a date for an emergency senate meeting.