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Can and Should WSU Require Proof of Vaccination? Students and Professionals Weigh In

Student wearing mask at computer | Photo by Diana Jaber | The Wright State Guardian

The Monday afternoon announcement ceasing COVID-19 restrictions on Wright State University’s (WSU) campus is raising questions and concerns among some students.

Some students are excited about the change in mask-wearing policies while others are concerned their peers may pretend they’re vaccinated to avoid wearing a mask if providing proof is not necessary. 

With the relaxed policies hinging on whether an individual is fully vaccinated or not, many are wondering whether or not the university will require proof of vaccination.

What is legal?

Deputy of WSU’s General Counsel Sean Culley, J.D., shared with The Wright State Guardian that legislation does not currently exist preventing a university from requiring the COVID-19 vaccine.

“The COVID-19 vaccines are not approved under the regular FDA process, but only under an ’emergency use authorization.’ While most legal commentators agree that the EUA does not prevent employers or universities from making the vaccine mandatory, it is very likely that more institutions will require the vaccines once they have regular FDA approval,” Culley said.

No law keeps universities from requiring proof of a vaccination, according to Culley. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) only applies to medical records in the hands of a provider.

Many colleges already require proof of vaccines, including COVID-19. In Ohio, one of the few public universities with COVID-19 vaccination requirements for the fall is Cleveland State University.

However, WSU has no current plans to require students to get the vaccine, or to require students to furnish evidence of having been vaccinated, according to Culley.

Students’ Perspectives

Junior Nathan Klarer is eager for the upcoming fall semester at WSU. To him, life is finally starting to go back to normal.

“I always wear my mask, but now that everybody’s getting vaccinated I’m a lot more comfortable- especially outside. I don’t mind the relaxed laws about businesses either because I feel like everything is finally going back to normal or at least somewhat more normal,” Klarer said. 

On the other hand, some students have reservations about the new policies and are questioning whether unvaccinated students will be honest and follow masking protocol. 

“I’m fine with vaccinated people not needing to wear masks outside on campus. However, I think that the relaxed laws for stores and businesses are kind of skeptical because anyone can just say they’re vaccinated just to not wear a mask,” Graduate student Sophie Dang said. 

“As far as stores and other businesses I am not necessarily comfortable about them relaxing the rules. Until covid is gone completely and almost everyone is vaccinated. I don’t think they should remove the mask policies inside of the buildings,” Undergraduate student Anastazia White said. 

“As someone who can’t get the vaccine due to allergies, I feel fine knowing people who have been vaccinated can move to mask free. I personally will stay wearing my mask due to my inability to get vaccinated,” Undergraduate student Devin Hali said.

Would students be willing to show proof of vaccine? 

“I would personally be fine with WSU asking students to provide proof of vaccine to not wear a mask/return to campus, but I feel like a lot of other people would not be,” Klarer said. 

White feels that providing proof of vaccine could potentially be unfair to unvaccinated students and those who cannot receive the vaccines for medical reasons. 

“I have mixed feelings about that. In a way, it might be a good way to see who’s been vaccinated. But it wouldn’t be fair to others,” White said. 

According to Dean of Students Dr. Chris Taylor, WSU is not currently planning to require students to show proof of vaccination.

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