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Monday September 20th

Faculty Advisory Committee proposes potential student COVID-19 vaccine mandate

<p>The Faculty Advisory Committee meets on April 22nd to discuss issues including mandatory vaccinations for students returning in the fall.</p>
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The Faculty Advisory Committee meets on April 22nd to discuss issues including mandatory vaccinations for students returning in the fall.

The Faculty Advisory Committee met Thursday to discuss progress in COVID-19 vaccinations and a possible mandate for students to get vaccinated, housing for first-year students and Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz's trip to Selma, Ala. — where he connected with attorney and social justice activist Bryan Stevenson.

Guskiewicz said it is still in question as to whether students will be mandated to get the COVID-19 vaccine for the upcoming school year.

  • Guskiewicz said he has been speaking with universities, people and organizations both affiliated and unaffiliated with UNC about the future of vaccine requirements.
    • “There are still a lot of questions to be answered and options that we must consider from the EUA," Guskiewicz said. "We want to give people a choice, but we have the responsibility to keep our campus safe."
  • Guskiewicz said they need to wait and hear from infectious disease experts in mid June.

Keisha Gibson, an associate professor of medicine and pediatrics and the vice chairperson of diversity and inclusion for the Department of Medicine, believes there should eventually be a vaccine mandate for the students at UNC.

  • “Part of the students' hesitancy is politicized," Gibson said. "Once it is FDA-approved, there should be some proof of vaccination."
  • Guskiewicz said that the committee-requested mandate faces some difficulty.
    • “The challenge is there will be those students that do not want to be vaccinated due to religious or medical reasons," Guskiewicz said. "What do you do for the mandate? Get them tested?”

Next, Guskiewicz updated the committee about what campus housing will look like for the fall semester. 

  • “The plan right now is, in the neighborhood, we will have 7,500 students who will be living in residence halls, and we will not need to de-densify because there will be fewer sophomores and juniors living on campus,” Guskiewicz said. "It happened naturally because many first-years decided to move off campus.”
  • Guskiewicz also said after speaking with Student Affairs, the University still believes that when students are required to live in a residence hall as a first-year, the residential environment sets them up for success. He said the University wants to "avoid a situation that would push students out of residence halls."

Finally, Guskiewicz discussed his trip to Selma. He said he went to Selma with several UNC alumni and had an amazing experience there.

  • “It was very powerful and I learned a lot from the legacy museum, seminar, memorials," Guskiewicz said. "We spent hours walking through there."
  • Gibson responded positively to Guskiewicz's visit to these historic sights.
    • “As a leader, you're doing the work," Gibson said. "That message needs to go to the community at large and not just sent out at a moment of crisis. We need to make it a priority. That will scream volumes. Those moments will matter even more."

The Faculty Advisory Committee is chaired by Suzanne Gulledge, a clinical professor in the School of Education.

university@dailytarheel.com

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