More than 250 colleges and universities have signed on to President Biden’s COVID-19 College Vaccine Challenge. The three-step challenge asks higher education institutions to:
- Engage every student, faculty, and staff member
- Organize the college community
- Deliver vaccine access for all
Simple enough. Given how deeply COVID-19 has impacted colleges and universities, participating in this challenge is a no-brainer. The more students who are vaccinated, the easier it becomes to re-open campus to in-person learning.
The Michigan participants to the challenge include all 15 public universities and the following community colleges:
Bay Mills Community College
Glen Oaks Community College
Henry Ford Community College
Kalamazoo Valley Community College
Macomb Community College
Muskegon Community College
Northwestern Michigan College
Saginaw Chippewa Tribal College
So, the point of engaging colleges and universities is to increase the vaccination rate among vaccine-eligible people on campus. Because of the vaccine roll-out strategy, the vaccination rate among young adults is relatively low. As of June 1, about 60% of Washtenaw County residents 16 years of age or older are completely vaccinated. This is about 10% less than the State of Michigan’s goal of vaccinating 70% of Michigan’s eligible residents.
Although students, faculty and staff can receive vaccinations anywhere, it is important to create convenient opportunities to enable them to get the vaccine. In some cases, students without access to health care may not know that they can receive the vaccine free of charge. Since community colleges have direct contact with the population that currently has the lowest vaccination rate, on-campus vaccine clinics make sense.
Health and Fitness Center mailer demonstrates Administration’s COVID-19 recovery priorities
The WCC Administration spent money to create and mail a county-wide advertisement to promote re-enrollment in the Health and Fitness Center. To date, they have not committed to giving the campus community access to vaccines that will prevent them from contracting COVID-19 and also help speed the re-opening of the campus.
Re-opening the Health and Fitness Center to the public: important!
Re-opening the campus and protecting students, faculty and staff from COVID-19: not so much.
One of these actions is highly relevant to and supportive of WCC’s mission, but the other is not. So, where does the Administration promptly commit its time and resources?
Washtenaw County residents should remember that we’ve sunk more than a quarter-billion dollars into WCC in the last five years alone. So, getting the campus re-opened as quickly and safely as possible is critical. It supports the investment we’ve made in the campus and the students who enroll there.
Our priority is not bolstering the revenue-generating potential of a flailing health club. That’s the priority of the WCC Administration, which is following the direction of the WCC Board of Trustees. Washtenaw County’s priority is returning students to campus and enabling them to learn as effectively and safely as possible. And in their preferred learning environment.
At this point, voters should be asking themselves whose interests the WCC Trustees are looking out for?
Photo Credit: Province of British Columbia, via Flickr