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Marquette University Requiring Students To Get Vaccinated Against Coronavirus

Students Have Until Aug. 1 To Be Fully Vaccinated For Fall Semester

Marquette University, Milwaukee
Gretchen Brown/WPR

Marquette University, Wisconsin’s latest private college, will require students to get vaccinated against the coronavirus before attending classes this fall, the Milwaukee school announced Monday.

In a letter to campus, Marquette President Michael Lovell said all students in undergraduate, graduate and professional programs must be fully vaccinated by an Aug. 1 for the fall semester.

This decision was made after consulting with health experts, and it has been endorsed by the university’s COVID-19 Response Team, the University Academic Senate Executive Committee, the Staff Senate and the Graduate Student Organization,” Lovell wrote.

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He said scientific evidence has shown the vaccines are safe and effective at reducing transmission of the virus, and that a vaccinated student population will allow Marquette to reduce testing and provide more access to campus.

Students will need to provide proof of vaccination as soon as possible by uploading documents to an online university portal, according to the letter. But students will also be able to claim exemptions from the vaccine mandate based on medical and religious grounds or because of “their personal conviction.”

Students who obtain an exemption will have to undergo surveillance testing for COVID-19.

Sarah Kizuk, a graduate student worker at Marquette and member of the Marquette Academic Workers Union, said the vaccine requirement is good news for the campus, especially since administrators announced they would end a mask mandate.

We welcome the decision from the Marquette administration to require COVID vaccinations for students,” said Kizuk. “And we hope that it will be extended to all faculty and staff. We think that doing so will put the well-being of Marquette’s workers and students where it belongs, which is at the forefront of any campus openings and safe operations in the fall.”

Lawrence University in Appleton and Beloit College have also required vaccinations, with Beloit requiring vaccinations for campus employees as well as students. The University of Wisconsin System has not required COVID-19 vaccines at its 26 campuses.

Peter McDonough, vice president and general counsel for the American Council on Education, said the number of campuses requiring COVID-19 vaccines for students is creeping upwards each day with around 475 colleges and universities mandating them thus far nationwide.

McDonough said campus leaders are working on the best messaging and steps for getting the most students vaccinated. He said in areas seeing more pushback against vaccine mandates among the public or lawmakers, colleges are working to create incentives for students to get the vaccines. In areas where pushback is less likely, he said, universities have simply required vaccinations.

Even the states where the pushback is most aggressive about requirements for COVID vaccines, there’s some level of requirements in order to enter a K-12 school building,” said McDonough.

He said the American Council on Education has been surveying college presidents throughout the pandemic and has found that the no. 1 concern has been student mental health. He said the isolation has been hard on students and the return to normalcy will be “fast tracked by vaccines.”

Wisconsin state Rep. Dave Murphy, R-Greenville, chairs the Assembly’s Colleges and Universities Committee. He said Marquette’s decision to require vaccinations for students is disappointing.

“When you think about it, anybody that really is afraid of this and is concerned about their health, they can get vaccinated and they can keep themselves safe,” said Murphy. “And, you know, they really shouldn’t have to worry that much about what the other folks who don’t.”

Murphy said he’s not against the COVID-19 vaccines and has been vaccinated, but he believes that decision should be up to individuals and not campus administrators.

Doctors and scientific experts continue to urge as many people as possible to get vaccinated to reduce spread of the coronavirus in communities.