A majority of students are opposed to the University’s newly imposed mask mandate, and support stricter enforcement of its vaccine mandate, a survey by The Setonian found.
In the anonymous survey conducted between Aug. 13 and 15, a wide majority of students (87.5%) reported being fully vaccinated, with 90.7% having received at least one dose of a vaccine from the sample size of 216 student participants. The survey largely supports the findings reported by the Health Intervention Communication Team (HICT), which said that student vaccination rates were hovering around 85% in an email to students on Aug. 12.
It is currently unclear whether "vaccination rate," the term used by HICT, refers to the proportion of students fully vaccinated, those with at least one dose of vaccine or those who said they intend to get vaccinated.
The survey showed an increase in vaccination rate from The Setonian’s survey in April.
A minority of students (37.2%) supported the University’s new vaccine mandate, which will require masks indoors regardless of vaccination status.
Over 24% of students said there should be no mask mandate while 38.1% supported an indoor mask mandate for unvaccinated community members and those with symptoms of COVID-19.
Only a small minority of students (9.3%) said they supported universal masking outdoors at the University. Seton Hall has not provided any indication that it will impose such a restriction.
Most students also disagreed with the terms of the University’s vaccine mandate, which currently does not require students to upload proof of vaccination.
Sixty percent of students surveyed said the University’s vaccine mandate should be stricter, with uploaded proof of vaccination required for those without exemptions. Twenty-three percent said that the current honor system was satisfactory, while 17.3% said the mandate should be less strict.
According to the HICT update on Aug. 12, Seton Hall is "among just 5% of colleges in the nation with such a comprehensive vaccination requirement" as the University's current mandate.
Just under two-thirds of students said that exemptions to the vaccine mandate should be provided to as few community members as legally possible — those with medical and religious reasons — while just 14.4% supported the University’s current plan to provide exemptions to those with medical, religious and other personal reasons for not getting vaccinated. Over 19% said exemptions should be given for any reason whatsoever.
On vaccine mandates, the student body largely agreed with the Seton Hall advocacy chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), a faculty group that called for a stricter vaccine requirement earlier this month. The AAUP also called for indoor masking, a stance most students told The Setonian they disagree with.
The survey also asked students about their experiences with remote and hybrid learning. After over a year since students last had in-person learning before the COVID-19 pandemic, most students said they found the modality “ineffective” or “very ineffective” (65%). However, 18.7% of students said they found hybrid and remote learning “effective" or "very effective."
According to the survey, 5.5% of students will seek to continue learning remotely, despite the resumption of a “primarily in-person” fall semester.
Among the 9% of students surveyed who said they were unvaccinated, many cited fear of dangerous side effects as their reasoning.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that severe side-effects of the COVID-19 vaccines are rare.
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Daniel O’Connor can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find him on Twitter @itsDanOConnor.