Bethel University allows students and employees freedom to choose in an emerging split regarding the role of COVID-19 vaccination in colleges.
By Sarah Bakeman | Contributing Writer
Director of COVID-19 operations Kristi Moline announced April 21 that vaccines will not be required for students and faculty for the fall 2021 semester in an email sent to the Bethel community.
Bethel’s update came two days before Macalester College, a neighboring private university, announced a requirement of COVID-19 vaccines for all returning students and faculty in the fall. In an email to employees and students, Macalester President Suzanne Rivera explained the school’s decision to become Minnesota’s first college to require the vaccine.
“The wellbeing of our campus community should not be put at risk by personal preferences,” Rivera wrote. “Our students and employees deserve to live and work in an environment where public health measures keep us all safer.”
Despite the contrast in approaches, the two St. Paul colleges will both see syringes, tiny glass vials and rows of fold-out metal chairs arriving to their campuses shortly. As Macalester sets aside campus spaces for HyVee pharmacy vaccine clinics and its students and employees prepare to roll up sleeves, Bethel does not appear too different.
800 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will be provided to interested Bethel community members by HyVee pharmacy. The first shot was administered April 26 and the second will be administered May 17 in the Brushaber Commons.
Regardless of its comparatively lenient vaccination stance, Bethel continues to encourage students and employees to remain diligent with COVID-19 procedures, whether they are vaccinated or not. As neighboring private schools such as the University of St. Thomas and Hamline University have yet to declare an official decision on the matter, Bethel and Macalaster serve as an example of two sides of an emerging split.