Published: April 23, 2021
By: Kathleen Peppo, LSU Manship School News Service
BATON ROUGE, La (LSU Manship School News Service) –A resolution calling on LSU to add the COVID-19 vaccine to its list of mandatory immunizations for students returning to campus this fall passed the LSU Faculty Senate 52-1 Thursday.
Inessa Bazayev, one of the professors who proposed the resolution, said 140 LSU faculty members had signed on to it out of concern about the potential health risks for them and their students.
Bazayev, an associate professor of music theory, said the resolution “prioritizes students’ safety by requiring students to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 prior to the start to fall 2021, given that LSU was planning on a return to face-to-face instruction in the fall, including for large classes.”
Professor Roger Laine, a biological sciences professor, voiced his wholehearted support, saying he was “unwilling to get into a room where my 35 students are not vaccinated.”
Political Science Professor Daniel Tirone said that LSU is scheduling classes at 100% of classroom capacity.
“So it is obvious that the intention is that they’re going to have every seat filled to the extent that they can, but it is not clear that they’re going to maintain the current mitigation measures,” he said. “And so that, I think, only enforces the need for the vaccine requirement.”
The nearly unanimous vote came after LSU’s interim president, Tom Galligan, and University of Louisiana System President Dr. Jim Henderson announced this week that they did not plan to require the more than 125,000 students at their schools to get the vaccine before returning for in-person classes in the fall.
More than 70 universities across the country have said they will require the vaccine, a point continually brought up by LSU professors at Thursday’s meeting. A recent survey indicated that about a third of Louisiana residents do not plan to take the vaccine, raising fears among the professors that a similar percentage of students might return from summer vacation without it.
“I think it’s really important that all the students be vaccinated, and these other major universities have already done this, so I 100 percent support this,” said Laine.
“More institutions join this reasonable and responsible movement every day,” Bazayev said.
The University of California and the California State University systems were among the latest to announce vaccination plans. They said Thursday that they intend to require vaccines for the 1 million students and employees of their 33 campuses once the federal Food and Drug Administration formally approves the vaccines.
Galligan and Henderson have said their campuses cannot require students to be vaccinated because the FDA has only approved the COVID vaccine for emergency use and has not completed its full safety investigations. But other universities have said that the health risks and the possibility of additional COVID-19 variants warrant vaccine requirements.
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