As Binghamton University prepares to return to in-person instruction in the fall, students will be required to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination.
On Monday, New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced SUNY and CUNY schools will require COVID-19 vaccinations for all in-person students beginning fall 2021. The mandate will be contingent on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granting full approval for COVID-19 vaccines, three of which are currently under emergency use authorization.
In Monday’s press release, Cuomo encouraged students to receive a vaccine.
“There is no factual argument against the vaccine, and there is no excuse not to get your shot,” Cuomo said. “This vaccine is the weapon that will help us win the war on [COVID-19], and so I urge everyone who still needs to take it to do so quickly at one of our many sites across the state.”
Cuomo’s announcement comes amid falling vaccination rates nationwide, with New York alone reporting a 41 percent decrease in vaccination rates from April 12 to May 9. The state also reports low vaccination rates among younger residents, with only 24.7 percent of New Yorkers aged 16 to 25 fully vaccinated.
SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras praised the decision in a statement, describing the mandate as the latest of several steps on the road to normalcy.
“Over the past several weeks we have been working with our SUNY community to develop the best plan to make sure we can return to full reopening in the fall and turn the page on [COVID-19],” Malatras said. “We thank the governor for providing resources to our many campuses offering vaccines to SUNY and the broader community. The state’s new vaccination requirement — contingent on full FDA approval — will be another step in restoring normal campus activity this fall.”
Ryan Yarosh, BU’s senior director of media and public relations, also expressed approval of the mandate.
“We support the governor’s decision and will continue to follow guidance from the state and SUNY officials,” Yarosh wrote in an email.
According to Yarosh, additional information will be provided to students when available.
The mandate was announced over a week after BU discontinued on-campus COVID-19 vaccinations, which Yarosh had attributed to a campus-wide survey demonstrating that 80 percent of over 7,000 respondents had either received or were in the process of receiving a COVID-19 vaccination.
Mikayla Roy, an undeclared freshman, said she hopes the mandate would promote a return to a more routine campus experience.
“I feel as if all students being vaccinated is one of the leading factors in our ability to return to pre-[COVID-19] life,” Roy wrote in an email. “While this may not be realistic, I think that because all students (and assuming faculty as well) are required to get the vaccine, there should be no issue gradually returning back to life pre-[COVID-19].”
Taylor Lipton, a sophomore majoring in business administration, said he thought the mandate as an unnecessary initiative.
“I feel that vaccine mandates are of no importance, especially if the University is still planning on keeping social distancing and mask policies,” Lipton wrote in an email. “It is important to make sure that everyone that wants to be vaccinated has the opportunity to do so, and those who do not have the opportunity to decline it without their education being held hostage.”
Katherine Quinn, a sophomore double-majoring in English and cinema, said she supported the mandate, and cited the ease of access to vaccines as an important motivator for students to receive their own.
“I do feel that BU students have proper access to vaccines, more so than they probably realize,” Quinn wrote in an email. “I think for many students, simply setting up an appointment can be the most daunting part of the ordeal. Perhaps it should be more stressed that setting up an appointment is a very simple and expeditious process.”
Cuomo strongly encouraged students to take heed of the mandate in a press conference on Monday.
“Let’s make a global statement,” Cuomo said. “You cannot go back to school in person in September unless you have a vaccine. That will be a major motivation for people to get the vaccine, and if you have to get it by September, you may as well get it now.”