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Hundreds of college campuses in Democrat-led states will require students to get the coronavirus vaccine before returning to campuses this fall.

More than 340 private and public colleges across the United States have announced that students will be asked to get vaccinated to attend classes on campus, according to the real-time tracker maintained by the Chronicle of Higher Education.

The majority of those campuses are located in Democratic states, with only 20 schools in red states adopting similar requirements. For instance, the California State University system teamed up with the University of California system last month to require all students, faculty, and staff who plan to study at any of the 33 schools’ campuses to get vaccinated. The policy will affect more than 1 million people. 


Public universities in New York will also require students to be vaccinated, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Monday. All State University of New York and City University of New York students, roughly 698,000 in total, will be required to get vaccinated before returning to campuses, contingent on the federal government granting full approval to the three vaccines in use. So far, all three vaccines in use have been granted only emergency use authorization by federal regulators. The process for winning full approval from the Food and Drug Administration could take months, as the agency must review an additional six months’ worth of safety and efficacy monitoring data. Pfizer was the first vaccine maker to submit its application for approval to the FDA last week.

Not all of the institutions adopting the vaccine requirements are sprawling state universities. Many private universities and small liberal arts colleges have implemented the same policies. Cornell University in New York, for example, was the first college in a Democratic state to implement the vaccination requirement, on April 2. The university maintains that students who object to the shots for medical or religious reasons can skip the requirement, “but the expectation will be that our campuses and classrooms will overwhelmingly consist of vaccinated individuals,” according to university President Martha Pollack and Provost Michael Kotlikoff.

The wave of new enrollment conditions comes as vaccination rates rise and social distancing guidelines are relaxed, indicators that the U.S. has rounded the corner and life could soon return to normal. To date, more than 58% of U.S. adults have received at least one dose of a vaccine. More than 45% of adults have been fully vaccinated.

Most college students were forced to shift their classes to online platforms and leave campuses abruptly over a year ago. Healthcare researchers will continue to take inventory of the pandemic’s negative effects on college students, but the evidence so far shows that it has hindered their ability to take the most out of their classes. Education data researchers reported in March that 42% of students indicated staying motivated during the pandemic was a major problem for them completing coursework online. In another study of the pandemic’s effects on students, published in the Journal of Public Economics in November, economists found that 13% of students have delayed graduation, 40% have lost a job, internship, or job offer, and 29% expected to earn less at age 35.

While the bulk of the colleges and universities implementing the vaccine policy are located in blue states, 19 private colleges and one public university in majority-GOP states have taken similar steps. For instance, Berea College, a private Christan liberal arts college in Kentucky, will require all students who want to study on campus in the fall to get vaccinated before they arrive. The rule aims to bolster the school’s ability to ward off outbreaks and protect people at the school who can’t get the shots for medical or religious reasons. 

“In order to have both protection for them and the highly engaged learning community that is our hallmark, we decided that we needed to have as many people in the community vaccinated as possible for the students, Berea College President Lyle Roelofs told the Washington Examiner.

Cleveland State University in Ohio is the only public school in a Republican-led state to have set this requirement as well. CSU spokesman Dave Kielmeyer said the details have to be “ironed out,” such as how vaccination status will be documented and what exemptions will be provided for students who cannot get vaccinated.

Several Republican governors, such as Ron DeSantis of Florida, have already refused to allow colleges in their states to require the shots by implementing bans on ‘vaccine passports,' or documentation of a person’s vaccination status.


Nova Southeastern University in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, announced on April 1 that students returning to campus would have to be vaccinated. The university had to reverse the policy a day later when DeSantis signed the vaccine passports order that said "businesses in Florida are prohibited from requiring … any documentation certifying COVID-19 vaccination.” The ban will go into effect on July 1.

“NSU was hoping for the ability to require vaccinations where possible to further protect the NSU community,” President George Hanbury said last week. “Nonetheless, with additional safeguards in place, NSU has its best opportunity to return to normalcy this fall.”

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Supreme Court rules school wrong to punish cheerleader for profane Snapchat rant in 8-1 free speech decision

The Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled 8-1 that a Pennsylvania high school was in the wrong when it kicked a cheerleader off of her team for a profane Snapchat post that she made off of school grounds, a ruling that student speech advocates will likely claim as a victory. 

The court ruled that while schools do maintain some interest in regulating students' off-campus speech, the factors in the case of the cheerleader, Brandy Levy, weighed against the school's actions. 

"[T]he school argues that it was trying to prevent disruption, if not within the classroom, then within the bounds of a school-sponsored extracurricular activity," Justice Stephen Breyer wrote in an opinion that was joined by all of his colleagues but Justice Clarence Thomas, who dissented. 

Brandi Levy speaks with Fox News' David Spunt about a Supreme Court case stemming from a pair of shapchats she posted as a sophomore in high school. (Fox News)

"But we can find no evidence in the record of the sort of ‘substantial disruption’ of a school activity or a threatened harm to the rights of others that might justify the school’s action," he added. 

Then-high school sophomore Brandi Levy was given the boot from her junior-varsity cheer team after issuing an off-campus screed in which she said "F--- school f--- softball f--- cheer f--- everything," and posted it online. 

The school district and those who sided with it said that schools should be able to punish off-campus speech like Levy's as part of their efforts to regulate cyber-bullying. But Breyer and the justices who sided with him said such off-campus speech limits must be light because "when coupled with regulations of on-campus speech," off-campus limits "include all the speech a student utters during the full 24-hour day.

"It might be tempting to dismiss B. L.’s words as unworthy of the robust First Amendment protections discussed herein," Breyer said. "But sometimes it is necessary to protect the superfluous in order to preserve the necessary."

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates. 

Tyler Olson covers politics for You can contact him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @TylerOlson1791.

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