Students and community members in New Brunswick, New Jersey, hosted a rally protesting Rutgers University’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate for returning students.
On May 21, participants gathered near the university to protest mandatory vaccination. They waved American flags, held signs demanding freedom, and chanted slogans poking fun at the pro-choice activist slogan, “My Body, My Choice.” The rally was organized by local chapters from Turning Point USA, Young Americans for Liberty (YAL), and NJ Stands Up, a medical freedom advocacy group.
Rutgers was the first school in the nation to mandate vaccination for students who wish to return to on-campus living and learning. The mandate, as it stands, excludes students with medical or religious exemptions.
Staff and faculty are not required to get vaccinated, though Rutgers Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Antonio Calcado has strongly urged everyone to get vaccinated before returning to campus.
“We are committed to creating a safe campus environment in fall 2021, and to support the health and safety for all members of the Rutgers community, the university has updated existing immunization requirements for students to include the COVID-19 vaccine,” Rutgers spokeswoman Dory Devlin told The Epoch Times. “The university’s position on vaccines is consistent with the legal authority supporting this policy.”
Sara Razi, one of the rally organizers and the New Jersey state chair for YAL, told The Burlington County Times that the protesters are not against vaccination, just against mandating vaccination.
“We believe it should be a personal and private choice — not the government, not the state,” Razi said. “No one should be making this decision for you — except yourself.”
— Sara Razi (@Sara_Razi29) May 21, 2021
According to The College Fix, the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons published an open letter encouraging universities not to mandate coronavirus vaccination. The letter claims that “young adults are a healthy and immunologically competent and vibrant group that is at ‘extraordinary low risk for COVID-19 morbidity and mortality.’’”
Other reasons include college-aged women being at a “unique risk for adverse events,” students already possessing antibodies, and “institutional policies that permit faculty to choose or refuse vaccination, but do not allow students the same options, raise equal protection constitutional issues.”
Rutgers is among many other schools that implemented vaccine mandates for returning students. Notre Dame University and Cornell University announced that return to campus would be contingent upon vaccination. Cornell’s announcement came after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that residents above the age of 16 were eligible for the vaccine.
The Daily Wire reported:
In a press release, university President Martha Pollack and Provost Michael Kotlikoff announced that Cornell would become the next school to make a return-to-campus contingent upon vaccination.
“With the recent announcements of expanded vaccine eligibility in New York and other states, and increasing vaccine production, it is likely that all members of our community will be able to obtain vaccination sometime this spring or summer,” the email reads. “Accordingly, Cornell intends to require vaccination for students returning to Ithaca, Geneva, and Cornell Tech campuses for the fall semester.”