By Hannah Joseph and Meghan Brink | August 31, 2021
Multiple stickers including anti-vaccination messages were found on campus just one day after the University updated its vaccine policy, violating student code of conduct.
The stickers contained a variety of anti-vaccination messages and a QR-code or link that stated “join the White Rose.” The White Rose is an anti-vaxx group that named itself after a German World War II era anti-facist group. Stickers from this organization have been found all over the world .
The stickers, which violate student code of conduct on public postings, have been removed by university maintenance, according to university spokesman Jordan Carleo-Evangelist.
Postings found on the Physical Education Building and Collins Circle were reported to the University Police Department and there is an ongoing investigation as to who is responsible, according to police reports on the incident.
Constitutional protections and the university’s Freedom of Expression Policy dictate what is allowed to be posted in campus public spaces. According to Carleo-Evangelist, the content of postings cannot be a consideration, however, there are certain campus rules as to where signage can be posted.
The university has many public bulletin boards and pre-approved areas for postings and postings on the Podium must be affiliated with a recognized campus organization or department. The stickers were not placed in these areas, and in addition, some were placed on top of university sponsored social distancing signage.
“The person (or persons) posting these stickers is violating campus policy on posting. There are approved areas for posting flyers, etc., on campus, but you cannot paste stickers on walls or floors, and certainly not on top of official campus signage intended to help keep people safe,” said Carleo-Evangelist.
Carleo-Evangelist said that it is a violation of the student code of conduct and will result in disciplinary action or dismissal from the university.
On Aug. 23 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted final approval of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine. Effective immediately, the University at Albany updated its vaccination mandate, requiring all students obtain the first dose of either Pfizer or Moderna, or a single dose of Johnson and Johnson by Aug. 31.
The University did state they would be granting exemptions based on religious or medical reasons and if students have a fully remote class schedule they may also meet requirements for said exemptions.
Upon hearing the news, Albany Student Press interviewed students in the Campus Center and asked them their opinions on the schools Vaccine Mandate.
Jean Yoon, a sophomore who received the Pfizer vaccine prior to the mandate, expressed her approval.
“People are dying and you can’t do anything fun without the vaccine,” said Yoon. “I absolutely support it 100%”.
Many showed their support for the schools decision to de-register unvaccinated students. “If it’s gonna keep the school from shutting down, I’m with it,” said a sophomore, who requested to remain anonymous.
One Junior, Avery, who is fully vaccinated, thought the university’s policy was too harsh, and offered another solution: “unvaccinated people should wear a mask, vaccinated shouldn’t,” she said, “ … they should wear a name tag that says ‘Hi I’m not Vaccinated.’”
The ASP also spoke to some students who have not yet received their vaccine. One junior who requested to be unnamed, expressed their uncertainty about receiving the vaccine. “People that are vaccinated, they’re still getting COVID… So what's the point?” said the student.
Despite their apprehension, they decided to make an appointment to receive their first dose. They stated, “ … I don’t really like that, they’re putting me in a position where I have to do something I don’t want to do.”
Nico, a junior, who said he is against the vaccine for “personal and family issues”, has also agreed to get vaccinated in compliance with University policy. He sided with his peer and said, “the school is making me… I feel violated because they’re forcing me to do something I do not want to do.”
The university is urging students to receive their vaccines as soon a possible. The university conducted 1,975 surveillance tests since Aug. 16. In the past 14 days, 14 on-campus students have reportedly tested positive for COVID-19, with eight placed in on-campus quarantine housing at Alumni Quad.
“The numbers already show that UAlbany students are doing a great job,” said Carleo-Evangelist. “Vaccination, masking and our other campus safety protocols are what allowed us to return to fully in-person learning and are what will keep us here and healthy all semester.”