John Lynch is a senior journalism news major and writes “Fine Print” for The Daily News. His views do not necessarily reflect those of the newspaper.
Who would have thought that the worst experience of our lives could be ended by two needles?
As the three types of COVID-19 vaccines were making their way into the arms of the U.S. population near the end of spring, it almost felt like we had started to turn the corner on the pandemic. Masks were being recommended less and less by the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), businesses were opening their doors to full capacity again and even our college lives seemed to be getting back on track.
Then, the COVID variants made things more complicated than ever, for both vaccinated and unvaccinated people alike.
In May, Ball State’s Board of Trustees proposed a plan that included a provision to require vaccination against COVID-19 for students and faculty who participated in classes or activities that might increase the risk of contracting the virus.
Good, do it. Seriously.
Now, Ball State has the chance to gain back the trust of members of its student body — trust that was shaken early last school year. The university has yet to actually see this plan through and mandate vaccinations but would be wise to do so now that the Food and Drug Association (FDA) has fully authorized the Pfizer vaccine.
We all remember the first few weeks of the fall 2020 semester — the fear we’d all have to go home in the first couple weeks due to the massive case spikes the school experienced, the rocky half-transition from in-person to hybrid learning, the stern warnings from the administration regarding some students’ behavior — and I, for one, am not interested in returning to those days.
Ball State and the student body made their fair share of mistakes since the pandemic started. Parties thrown by students and fraternities caused case spikes early in September 2020, according to an email from President Mearns, which led to reprimands from the university. Through all that, some classes still went on in-person despite early campus infection statistics that belied the real severity of the pandemic.
I still find it abhorrent the university charged full tuition and fees in a year where we couldn’t live out a true “college experience.”
I had two classes over the last two semesters that were conducted almost entirely without the supervision or instruction of a professor. I didn’t learn anything from these classes — I was just a homework machine, filling out assignments and hoping for the best.
It certainly didn’t feel worthy of the price I paid for tuition.
While Ball State enacted plenty of pandemic protocols like social distancing, mask mandates and limiting class and activity sizes, there were still more than 1,500 COVID-19 cases among Ball State students and faculty in the first semester alone.
Mask mandates, stern words and $100 incentives are just not enough to get us to herd immunity, which seem to be all Ball State is willing to do for now.
A vaccination requirement is the key to never going through that particular low point of our college experiences again. Ball State has an option to take a stand and place itself firmly on the right side of this issue.
Indiana University (IU) has already wisely opted to include a vaccine requirement for its 2021 school year and was later vindicated in its implementation when Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb said he would not reverse the university’s decision via executive order, drawing the ire of his Republican colleagues.
IU’s decision to mandate vaccines was also upheld by the Indiana Supreme Court, giving Ball State even stronger legal footing to pursue a similar mandate.
There are valid reasons for people to feel apprehension toward vaccines, particularly for those in minority communities, who have seen hardships inflicted on them as a direct result of lies from the medical community. The Tuskegee studies on syphilis are one prominent example of medical suffering inflicted by the federal government, all in the so-called name of the “public good.”
It’s also true that we don’t know the full, long-term effects of the vaccine yet. However, all signs point to the three types of COVID-19 vaccines being safe for the general population — so much that the Pfizer vaccine has been approved for children over the age of 12 and the Moderna vaccine is on track to receive a similar over-12 approval.
If you are unvaccinated, how much more proof do you need that the vaccine works?
According to the CDC, more than 166 million Americans (more than half of the population) have been fully vaccinated, largely without negative effects. How much larger of a control group would satisfy you?
Did you know people who suffered from the virus?
Did you know people who lost loved ones to the virus?
Did you catch the virus or see a loved one die from it?
If the answer to any of those questions is yes, you should support vaccine requirements in our community.
More than 600,000 of our fellow Americans have died from this pandemic. Do we really have such a short memory that we can forget the heartbreaking losses we experienced during quarantine?
The truth is, if you’re unvaccinated, the reason we’ll all still be in masks and continuing to see the best time of our lives slip away this semester is because of you.
That’s not an insult, it’s a fact — according to an Associated Press analysis of CDC data on COVID-19 hospitalizations, only 1.1 percent of all COVID-19 positive patients were vaccinated.
Ball State’s administration and students have a chance to right these wrongs — if not for ourselves, then at least for the people who have seen their lives destroyed by the pandemic.
The only way to get our college experience, dignity and lives back is to reach herd immunity and take the vaccine.
The worst time of our lives can end, but only if we take charge and make it happen.
Contact John Lynch with comments at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @WritesLynch.