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Students, Faculty To Host ‘Vaccinate Penn State’ Rally August 27

Penn State students and faculty will host another rally at Old Main this weekend to encourage the university to require COVID-19 vaccines.

From 3 to 4 p.m. on Friday, August 27, attendees will rally to “support a COVID-19 vaccine mandate and other safety measures.” The event is organized by the Coalition for a Just University, which has routinely organized protests and published letters in support of stronger action against the pandemic.

According to the group’s website, all attendees should wear a mask and socially distance. They’re also encouraged to bring signs that “send a clear message” to President Eric Barron and other administrators.

“We want to create space for expressions of support for a vaccine mandate at Penn State and expressions of concern about our unsafe conditions for teaching and learning,” the group wrote.

The Coalition for a Just University held a similar pro-vaccination rally earlier in August.

To date, Penn State has not required COVID-19 vaccines for students and employees. On Wednesday, the university confirmed full approval of Pfizer’s vaccine wouldn’t change that.

Earlier this month, Barron implied political pressure from Pennsylvania’s Republican-controlled legislatures served as a roadblock to requiring vaccines. In an open letter, he noted that approving the university’s state-funded appropriation “requires a two-thirds vote of the Pennsylvania legislature.”

Nine of 14 Big Ten schools, including Ohio State on Monday, have announced requirements for COVID-19 vaccinations in one way or another. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, nearly 800 universities nationwide have vaccine mandates in place.

Penn State faculty have outspokenly voiced concerns about Penn State’s lack of a vaccine requirement so far. About 270 professors from 16 campuses, organized by the Coalition for a Just University, taught online in protest earlier this week.

Penn State students who aren’t vaccinated (or haven’t submitted proof of vaccination to the university) are required to undergo weekly COVID-19 testing this fall. Punishments for noncompliance include conduct referrals, suspensions, and bans from campus events, including football games.

In its latest estimate, Penn State said about 82% of students living on campus are fully vaccinated. Additionally, according to the university, administrators and “academic personnel” are respectively 94% and 82% vaccinated. Full-time staff sit at about 72% vaccinated.

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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 ([email protected]) or follow him on Twitter (@mattdisanto_) to stay in touch.

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