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Faculty Group To Host ‘Vaccinate Penn State’ Rally August 13

A group of Penn State faculty members will host a rally on Friday, August 13, to urge the university to require COVID-19 vaccinations for students and employees.

At noon in front of Old Main, faculty members and the Coalition for a Just University will gather to deliver an open letter to Penn State that outlined concerns surrounding its handling of the pandemic. Those who can’t attend in person can submit testimonials that’ll be read aloud.

Attendees are encouraged to show they’re faculty members by wearing “academic regalia” or making a sign. Anyone in attendance should wear a mask and socially distance.

To date, more than 1,150 faculty members and more than 1,500 students, parents, and community members signed an open letter demanding Penn State take stronger action against COVID-19. Since then, the university has re-implemented an indoor masking mandate for all individuals on campus.

Last week, Penn State doubled down on its commitment to avoiding a vaccine mandate for students and employees. However, administrators strongly encouraged vaccinations for all who are eligible.

Students who’ve submitted proof of vaccination to the university can avoid required COVID-19 testing.

More than 600 campuses nationwide are requiring at least some students and/or employees to be vaccinated against the virus, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education.

In the Big Ten RutgersIndianaMichigan StateNorthwesternMarylandIllinois, Minnesota, and Michigan each have vaccination requirements, although some let unvaccinated people bypass vaccines if they test negative for the virus each week.

“Even though many of our peer institutions have issued vaccine mandates, Penn State has refused to require vaccines or respond adequately to the more transmissible Delta variant,” the group said online.

According to newly released survey data, the majority of Penn State student and employee respondents are already vaccinated against the virus.

About 77% of surveyed students said they’re fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to Vice President for Student Affairs Damon Sims. The survey, sent out to more than 87,000 Penn State students, garnered an overall 42% response rate and a 54% response rate at University Park.

Meanwhile, 92% of employee respondents said they’re fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Employee surveys were sent to more than 35,000 faculty and staff across Penn State’s entire network. About half responded, garnering a 56% response rate.

More information about the upcoming rally is available online.

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About the Author

Matt DiSanto

Matt proudly served as Onward State’s managing editor for two years until graduating from Penn State with distinction in May 2022. Now, he’s off in the real world doing real things. Send him an email ( or follow him on Twitter (@mattdisanto_) to stay in touch.

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