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Students overwhelmingly support booster shot mandate

Updated: Jan 8, 2022

By Gabe Merkel

Only about 12 percent of students opposed the move, with roughly 11 percent unsure.

Brown announced in a campus-wide email in December that it would require all students, faculty, and staff to receive a Covid-19 booster shot before the beginning of the spring semester or within 30 days of becoming eligible. The announcement came as Covid-19 cases surged in Rhode Island--with the state reporting its highest daily case numbers since January 2021--and as the Omicron variant was detected in the state.

According to the Brown Opinion Project’s December 2021 poll, a wide majority of Brown likely approve of this measure. The poll, which was administered about two weeks before the announcement, showed that roughly three-quarters of Brown students (76.02%) approved of Brown mandating booster shots for undergraduates. Only 11.89% of Brown students opposed the move, with another 11.48% “unsure.”

The most resistance to the move comes from the class of 2025: 18.18 percent of first-years polled said the University should not mandate boosters, and another 12.12 percent are unsure.

A number of Brown students said they had expected the University to mandate boosters given the actions the University has already taken to control the spread of Covid-19 on campus.

A junior who took the poll described a booster mandate as a “logical next step after having us all vaccinated.” While they believe the measure is “not necessary,” they said they thought it would prove “helpful in maintaining a sense of normalcy.”

A member of the class of 2024 who took the poll agreed.

“They already have the precedent of requiring vaccines and really there wasn’t any issue there,” the sophomore noted.

While Brown’s December 14 announcement made it the first member of the Ivy League to require boosters, its peer institutions were not far behind. Since Brown’s announcement, all other Ivy League schools and dozens of colleges and universities across the country have also announced booster requirements for their students.

Several students who expressed support for Brown’s booster mandates said that they hope that the requirement will prevent Brown from needing to temporarily shift classes online, as a number of other colleges and universities have, despite requiring booster shots.

A junior who took the poll said they were in favor of Brown mandating boosters, but only if the University “plan[s] to maintain the same level of in-person operations as they did in the fall.” A sophomore said that they “hated last year” and that they don’t “mind getting the shot” if it means more in-person operations.

A sophomore added that they think the booster requirement “should come with some kind of adjustment of the rules.”

“If we’re not seeing rules adjusted to go with a hundred-percent triple-vaccinated community…then what are our goals here?” they said.

On December 21, President Christina Paxson announced in a campus-wide email that she “does not anticipate any significant changes to University operations or activities in the coming weeks.”

Note: All quoted poll-takers remain anonymous to maintain the integrity of Brown Opinion Project surveys. Brown Opinion Project conducted its December 2021 poll from December 2-3, collecting 488 total responses from undergraduate students. The margin of error is 4.44 percent with 95 percent confidence.


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