The past year has tested the limits of everyone. People, governments, institutions and everything in between have been put to the test in their ability to handle a situation that altered the course of everyone’s daily lives.
We understand that this year was unprecedented and difficult, but as we start to see the light at the end of the tunnel, we are calling on the University of Nevada, Reno to start being proactive rather than reactive, at best.
As student journalists who have spent countless hours analyzing the university’s announcements, initiatives and decisions, we have concluded that the university, a majority of the time, takes more reactive approaches to situations, rather than proactive. This has been especially proven true during the pandemic.
Examples of this reactive approach can be seen all the way back to the beginning of the pandemic, when UNR became one of the very last schools to move to online instruction in the Nevada System of Higher Education, if not nationwide. We understand that since this decision, the university has undergone monumental leadership changes, and this decision was made when everything was scary and it seemed like no one knew what was going to happen.
Since then, a year has passed, and the same cycle has continued to repeat itself. From a student perspective, it seems like the university administration makes decisions to appease the masses. They aim to look like they are protecting student interests. However, these decisions do not seem like ones they would make if their own children were enrolled. Decisions aren’t being made as if their own children are paying tuition to the school. Decisions aren’t made as if it’s their own child’s life at risk.
The university has plans to reopen in the fall. For the sake of students’ education and mental health, this is a wise decision. However, lives are on the line when you welcome students back to campus for the first time in almost 18 months. It seems like a simple decision, but we are calling on the university to require the COVID-19 vaccine for all students planning to return to campus this fall.
Requiring students to get the COVID-19 vaccine before they return to campus and classes in-person is a proactive approach to receive the results the university and students want, which is a return to normal life on campus.
Requiring students to get a vaccine is not a wild concept. The university currently requires several vaccines just to be enrolled and live on-campus. Many other universities, including the entire California State University and University of California systems have announced they will require students to be vaccinated for COVID-19 to be able to return to campus. When comparing sizes of the CSU, UC and NSHE systems, CSU’s have over 400,000 students enrolled and UC’s enroll a little over 200,000 students. NSHE serves over 107,000 students, with the university having just over 21,000 students.
Why hasn’t UNR made a similar decision? If institutions serving thousands more students can, why not UNR?
The university boasts that student safety is a top priority for them. However, not requiring vaccines for students before a fully in-person semester for the first time in over a year seems like failure to keep students’ best interest in mind. Vaccines are much more widely available than they were a few months ago. There is simply no reason to put thousands of students at risk.
The Nevada Sagebrush can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @NevadaSagebrush.