XU vaccine mandate expands

All university employees are required to be vaccinated before next semester

By Olivia Valkner, Staff Wrtier

Per a letter from Dr. Colleen Hanycz, president, all Xavier employees will be required to be fully vaccinated before the spring semester. Last Thursday’s announcement follows the student vaccine requirement which was established more than three weeks ago.

Hanycz highlighted that vaccination mandates in schools and workplaces sparks polarizing and difficult discussions across the country, but she encouraged employees to look beyond political affiliations. 

“I would urge us to put aside the framework of ‘my rights,’ in favor of a focus on the collective or common good. There is no perfect answer here and yet, adopting the recommendation of our colleagues who serve on the COVID-19 Task Force, I believe that doing all that we can to get as close as we can to a fully vaccinated campus community is the best available means to protect all of us,” the letter read. 

Hanycz’s message also cited the vaccination rate for faculty and staff, which currently rests around 80% according to Xavier’s COVID-19 dashboard. 

Writing Program Director and Assistant Professor of English Dr. Renea Frey expanded upon the importance of Xavier’s vaccine requirement. 

“While I wish that mandates weren’t necessary and that people would voluntarily do the right thing for their health, families and communities, this is clearly not always the case,” she said. “When wide scale public health and safety are at stake, I think that mandates are necessary to avoid continued suffering and avoidable deaths.”

Hanycz’s letter also recognized that the pandemic is not going away anytime soon, a dynamic Frey echoed in her comments. 

“The vaccine is the most powerful and effective tool we have to remediate this pandemic, and it is our ethical responsibility to help prevent further tragedy by getting it,” Frey said.

Newswire photo by Eric Maahs

Dr. Marissa Saladin, second year teaching professor of chemistry, agreed with the decision too.

“In addition to protecting ourselves and our families, for me it also became a matter of protecting the students… I see roughly 150 students in person a week, and I would hate to ever be the common thread in someone getting sick,” Saladin said.

“I think (the statement) shows the commitment to Jesuit values of service and solidarity, which is why many of us decided to work at Xavier,” she continued. 

Additionally, Saladin believes that if students should be required to get vaccinated against COVID-19, then employees should be held to the same standard.

“I’ve only been at Xavier for a year, but I have been thoroughly impressed by the level of commitment that the faculty have in teaching the Jesuit values by showing students how to care for each other and the world community. It’s time to show that it’s not just talk and that we follow through on these values,” Saladin concluded.

As outlined by the letter, all employees are required to submit their vaccination record online by Jan. 3, 2022, to remain in their positions.