Controversy Rises Over Lifted Vaccine Mandate


Because the vaccine policy was heavily mandated, but then reversed later on in the year, Fordham College Republicans felt that the requests of the campus community were disrespected. (Courtesy of Twitter)

On March 22, Fordham College Republicans made a statement on Instagram in regards to the university’s decision to mandate the bivalent COVID-19 vaccine during the fall of 2022. In March, the university lifted the mandate starting on May 15. “We demand a public apology from President Tetlow and the rest of the Fordham administrators responsible for needlessly forcing students and staff into this distressing situation last fall,” stated the club on their Instagram. According to the old university policy supported by President Tania Tetlow, the university required all students, faculty and visitors to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Failure to do so would result in not being able to enter campus, suspension from registered classes and the deactivation of campus IDs.

Fordham announced the booster requirement in an email to the community on Sept. 26. In a statement to The Fordham Ram, Bob Howe, associate vice president for communications and special adviser to the president, explained the university’s decision to continue to mandate the vaccine, stating that because it is important to continue vaccinating against the virus. “To the extent that the pandemic’s lethality has been blunted, it is because of widespread vaccination for COVID-19. People are still getting sick, but the percentage of those who require hospitalization or who die is much lower — this, by itself, is reason enough to require everyone on campus to be vaccinated and boosted,” said Howe.

As a result of the fall 2022 policy, some members of the Fordham community were unhappy with the mandate and protests took place urging President Tetlow to lift the mandate.

Starting May 15, 2023, members of the university community and visitors no longer have to be vaccinated against COVID-19. This policy was announced in the middle of the spring 2023 semester, when most of the Fordham community already either received the vaccine or had to file for an exemption.

Because the policy was heavily mandated, but then reversed later on in the year, Fordham College Republicans felt that the requests of the campus community were disrespected. “The bivalent booster mandate that needed to be complied to by November 1 was an overreach of power that caused undue distress to students,” stated the club. “The administration ignored all emails, petitions, and protests that advocated for individual freedom of choice and bodily autonomy. Students who did not wish to comply were threatened that they could be forced off of campus and out of their classes, in the middle of the semester that they and their families paid for.” The club also stated concerns with the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine.

“Countless students were faced with the terrifying dilemma of either sacrificing their financial futures by losing tens of thousands of dollars, or potentially sacrificing their health if the bivalent booster adversely affected them,” stated the Fordham College Republicans in their Instagram statement.

According to the same statement, President Tetlow ignored live questions about the vaccine mandate at a school-wide Town Hall during the fall 2022 semester and that the president advocated for a vaccine policy that forced her own beliefs onto the university community.

“Students felt very uncomfortable about being forced to inject themselves with a vaccine that had not completed human trials,” said Fordham College Republicans in an email and relayed via Instagram direct messages. “Especially with the increased findings of more risk than reward for young, healthy people taking COVID-19 vaccines, as well as findings that the vaccines have been largely ineffective at preventing transmission.”

Other students, however, believed that the vaccine mandate was certainly necessary. “I liked the fact that they had a policy to begin with to get vaccinated. I know this is a stance that would upset people, but being a New Yorker, I understand what the pandemic did and why it is important for us to be aware of our role to play in getting past this,” said Colin Loughran, FCRH ’23.

“I understand why people would be upset but I think that the vaccine mandate is there for everybody’s safety. While I think it’s understandable that students are upset, I think that in the end, it’s in the benefit of Fordham students that vaccines are required on campus,” said Emma Vega, FCRH ’24.