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SUNY vaccine mandate creates issues for students: “It’s not a great situation for anyone”

Reaction across SUNY campuses has been mixed as the state’s COVID vaccine mandate went into effect this week. The college system began kicking students out who failed to get the vaccine before the September 27 deadline — and many students on campus don’t feel bad about it.

But SUNY students are not the only ones being kicked off campus if they aren’t vaccinated.

“You did it to yourself,” Syracuse University student Andrew Dymon told CNYCentral. “You deserve to get kicked out. To know that they didn’t allow unvaccinated students back. I think that’s a step in the right direction. I think you need to think of everyone’s safety before thinking of your own.”

Private colleges like Syracuse University imposed their own rules. Around 400 unvaccinated students are not allowed on campus there because of a COVID vaccine mandate.

What are students saying about the vaccine mandate?

“It feels like the right thing to do, but at the same time not everyone has been given the same information,” SUNY freshman Meghan Elzier told “Even within my own circle — there are drastic differences in what our friends see and believe to be true. Not just about the vaccine — about practically everything.”

She says the moral challenge is reconciling the fact that some of those students, who are simply overwhelmed with misinformation — or being pushed by family members one direction — will be set behind.

“Some of our friends have even had to hide their vaccine status from family members because they’re worried about being ridiculed or criticized,” Elzier said. “It’s not a great situation for anyone — but hopefully vaccination continues to be normalized in more areas so it’s not a politicized weapon.”

What options do students have for vaccination?

SUNY schools are not providing any alternatives. Some private institutions across the state are giving students a testing option — but those come with steep costs and indefinite regularity. 

For example, Le Moyne College will be fining students $100 to $200 if they do not fully comply with twice-weekly COVID-19 testing. 

SUNY students have a 35-day grace period to provide proof and necessary exemptions if they believe they should not be vaccinated.