BGSU’s Undergraduate Student Government unanimously passed an emergency resolution supporting a university-wide mandate of the FDA-approved Pfizer vaccine.
USG and BGSU have a “moral obligation to place student health and safety at the highest priority,” USG President Alexander Chiarelott said.
BGSU President Rodney Rogers urged a decision on the matter during a Friday meeting with USG representatives, Chiarelott said. So, in their first in-person general assembly since March 2020, USG pushed S.R. 02 into emergency resolution, as opposed to voting on it at the next general assembly on Sept. 13.
Two new senators were sworn in — Matthew Hill for non-traditional students and Grant Rospert for military students, who are all classified as non-traditional students. Due to USG’s bylaws, new members are unable to vote at the assembly they are sworn in.
Both senators voiced their contempt with being unable to vote on the emergency resolution.
“We will be misrepresented in this issue today,” Hill said.
Rospert, who represents about 650 military students, said the vote should have been on Sept. 13, when they would have been eligible.
“I was going to vote against mandating the vaccine. Therefore, I wanted my voice to be heard and my vote to be counted.” Rospert said.
Treasurer Hobbes Treynor said USG voted with all students, including those Hill and Rospert represent, in mind.
“I believe this resolution is for the benefit of the tens of thousands of students we, as a whole, represent,” Treynor said.
Rospert said he does not disagree with the vaccine itself but is concerned with the principle of a government mandating a vaccine.
“How much overreach of the government is too much?” he asked.
While the USG resolution does not officially mandate a vaccine, it shows their support on behalf of the undergraduate student body and can affect the university’s decision-making. They also support religious and health-related exemptions for students, faculty and staff upon request, as well as a grace period to receive the vaccine.
Treynor, who co-sponsored the resolution, said the uncertainty of COVID-19’s impact over the next two weeks necessitated an immediate vote.
“The Delta variant has proved to be aggressive in its contagion rate,'' he said.
The resolution cites the increasing severity of the Delta variant, recent vaccine mandates from other Ohio universities and the value of in-person education as reasons BGSU should mandate the Pfizer vaccine.
According to BGSU Chief Health Officer Ben Batey, 60.5% of students have started the vaccination process and 45.6% have completed the vaccination process. 69.5% of students living on campus have started the vaccination process, while 59.3% of them have completed it.
Three cabinet nominations were also approved:
Joseph Blair; legislative secretary
Liam Harper; chief of staff
Brie Bradshaw; director of off-campus student affairs
USG’s next general assembly is on Sept. 13.