BJC Vaccination Site, Mark Stephens

Dr. Mark Stephens, a doctor of medicine in State College, Pa, prepares a dose of the coronavirus vaccine on Monday, March 15, 2021, at the Bryce Jordan Center in University Park, Pa.

Penn State's Faculty Senate voted to approve a coronavirus vaccine mandate for students, faculty and staff prior to the fall semester return during its Wednesday afternoon special meeting. The resolution titled Appendix A passed with a vote of 113-31.

While the senate now supports the position to mandate vaccinations, this decision will not create official university legislation or any other specific policies as of yet. According to Bonj Szczygiel, chair-elect of the Penn State Faculty Senate, the senate's decision is not a "binding resolution" for the university.

Appendix A was sponsored by members from the College of Liberal Arts Faculty Senate Caucus. More than 20 of the college's members signed the document.

Additionally, representatives from Penn State's University Park Undergraduate Association spoke at the meeting, voicing the organization's support in passing the mandate. UPUA members were among those who were able to vote on Appendix A.

According to Erin Boas, president of UPUA, a survey given to students titled "PSU: Mandatory Vaccine Question" accrued 2,319 responses as of 10:15 a.m. Wednesday morning, indicating 60.03% respondents would agree with a mandate, while 39.79% would not agree.

Prior to voting on Appendix A, spokespeople from the senate voiced concerns about exemptions that were added to the original document prior to the meeting without the full senate's knowledge.

The document, which was reverted to the original disseminated version prior to voting, had originally included some exceptions to the vaccine mandate — "strong moral or ethical convictions," religious grounds and medical conditions.

The first of the aforementioned list was removed prior to voting and will no longer be included in Appendix A.

Penn State currently has "no plans" to move in the direction of mandating coronavirus vaccines, Nick Jones, executive vice president and provost of Penn State, said during the senate meeting.

As of Wednesday, other Big Ten institutions that implemented university-wide vaccine mandates in some capacity include:

  • The University of Maryland announced April 23 coronavirus vaccinations will be required for all students and employees.
  • The University of Michigan at Ann Arbor announced April 23 coronavirus vaccinations will be required for residential students only.
  • Northwestern University announced May 12 coronavirus vaccinations will be required for all students.
  • Rutgers University announced March 25 coronavirus vaccinations will be required for all students.

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