When asked if I was excited for the upcoming school year, my answer was affirmative but untruthful. In reality, my excitement felt overshadowed by fears about our “return to normal”.
A tweet thread on the “façade of normalcy” as colleges return to in-person instruction by Georgia Tech professor Dr. Mark Reidl has been a daily comfort read as I remind myself these past two years have by no means been normal. Reidl’s tweets perfectly encapsulate my feelings about social, emotional and political conflict as we navigate potentially tense waters on vaccines and masks. It was a reminder to me as I entered my new classes that my professors may have similar concerns about in-person instruction, of which all have confirmed.
BGSU’s vaccine mandate may be the solution for our community to actually get as close to “normal” as we all desire. All of us had hoped for a pre-pandemic experience this semester. Instead, every day, we face high levels of anxiety-inducing questions — am I causing harm to others, despite my preventative measures? Will myself, my family, my friends and my professors be safe?
The vaccine mandate provides a chance for us to exercise civic and communal responsibility. Masks and vaccinations should be apolitical. Rather than give any validity to any COVID-19 misinformation absurdities, I state here that COVID-19 is real, dangerous and wreaks havoc. Amongst many other motives, seeing loved ones fall ill and one close family member’s death from COVID-19 motivated me to get the vaccine when the opportunity arose at BGSU.
While debate exists whether vaccine mandates stifle expression of self-liberties, choosing to not vaccinate causes harm to those who are unable to receive the vaccine. It is not solely a democratic belief. In the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Stephen L. Carter argues that Libertarians should support a vaccine mandate. Famous Republicans, including Donald Trump and Sean Hannity, also received the coronavirus vaccine and expressed support for vaccinations. Political views aside, the scientific community is the most important voice to listen to during the pandemic and has proven the COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective.
University education gives us tools to positively impact our communities. The vaccine is one tool to protect others unable to receive it due to age, religious or medical reasons. It is also a sign of respect for over 4.5 million people worldwide and 643,000 of our fellow Americans who have died from COVID-19. We are not immune to this virus, and our campus must remember those in our community who passed from the coronavirus.
I wholeheartedly embrace BGSU’s vaccine mandate. As we needed to adjust to a new “pandemic normal,” this mandate will now allow us to step toward a new normal. This new normal will not be like former pre-pandemic university experiences, but instead has the chance to be an even better one.