NEW WILMINGTON, Pa.—Student Government Organization (SGA) unanimously passed a resolution proposing that the Board of Directors issue a vaccine mandate upon all Westminster students, staff, and faculty in a meeting held on September 29. SGA leaders drafted the resolution in support of the recent faculty vaccine resolution proposal brought to the Board on September 18.
SGA’s resolution is fully transcribed below:
Over the past 18 months, the COVID-19 pandemic has severely impacted the educational, social, and residential experience at Westminster College. On August 23, 2021, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) fully approved the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, providing all individuals on campus with a safe, accessible, and effective means of protecting themselves and others from the pernicious effects of the virus. Prior to the school year, Westminster College decided to encourage but not require the vaccine strongly. Considering the health of faculty, staff, and students, the Westminster College faculty approved a resolution to mandate SARS-CoV-2 vaccines for all members of the Westminster community on September 16, 2021. -----The Student Government Association of Westminster College
Taking into consideration the need to prioritize the health and safety of the Westminster College community, including the faculty, staff, and students,
Recognizing several members of the Westminster Community face preexisting health conditions that exacerbate the risk for adverse health effects from COVID-19,
Noting a portion of these individuals cannot receive the vaccine for medical reasons,
Further noting other members of the Westminster Community cannot receive vaccinations citing religious conflicts,
Bearing in mind the high rate of transmission and low vaccination rate in Lawrence and Mercer counties,
Noting with deep concern the emergence of SARS-CoV-2 variants that show an increased rate of transmission, particularly among unvaccinated populations,
Emphasizing the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is fully FDA approved and easily accessible to all members of the Westminster community at no personal expense,
Observing Westminster College mandates inoculations for a number of transmissible diseases for which there are widely accessible, FDA approved vaccines,
Viewing with appreciation private institutions similar to Westminster College in size and location, and with whom Westminster engages in athletic competition as members of the Presidential Athletic Conference, have implemented vaccine mandates, including Allegheny College, Bethany College, Chatham University, and Washington and Jefferson College,
Expecting an increase in vaccinations following the implementation of a mandate would allow for a commensurate relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions,
1. Supports the faculty resolution: “The faculty of Westminster College calls on the Board of Trustees to immediately institute a mandatory SARS-CoV-2 vaccination requirement for all Westminster College faculty, staff and students with appropriate/documented medical exceptions only.”
2. Calls upon the Westminster College Board of Trustees to immediately institute a mandatory SARS-CoV-2 vaccination requirement for all Westminster College faculty, staff, and students with exemptions only for appropriate religious and medical reasons.
SGA President Noah Polio shared SGA’s process in passing the resolution.
“SGA met the week after the faculty passed the resolution to discuss how, from the student perspective, we felt about the idea of a vaccine resolution and how we as a governing body could take action," Polio says. "During the course of the meeting, we voted to draft a resolution in support of the faculty resolution, with the caveat that the student opinion would include room for religious exemptions. Afterward, the executive council officially met to draft a resolution that would express all of the reasons members of SGA believed that a vaccine mandate was necessary for our campus. Once the draft was created, it was sent to the Senate, and minor revisions for clarity were made at the following meeting, after which the Senate unanimously voted in support of the resolution."
Polio also emphasizes that SGA passed the resolution out of safety for the campus community and hopes that it will help resume a sense of normalcy for Westminster.
“SGA is fully cognizant of how physically and mentally taxing COVID has been on the campus community, and we want to do everything in our power to advocate for policies that will help to mitigate the effects of COVID as much as possible.”
The College held another health clinic supported by Adagio Health where students could get the COVID-19 vaccine, the flu shot, and reproductive health testing by appointment.
Westminster maintains data on the vaccination rates of students, faculty, and staff. Student Affairs shares that, as of October 1, 71% of students are reported vaccinated, and 86% of employees are vaccinated. Students and employees can upload their vaccination records on the Wellness Center Health Portal.