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VCU May Pull Unvaccinated Students from Campus

VCU Campus
FILE PHOTO: VCU's Monroe Park campus. (Photo: Crixell Matthews/VPM News)

Virginia Commonwealth University is considering withdrawing students who are not vaccinated from campus, after faculty members expressed concerns that those students’ presence could pose a danger to others.

As of Wednesday morning, more than 700 students had not reported their vaccination status. VCU had given students until August 16 to show proof of vaccination, otherwise they would receive an administrative hold on their account.

Everett Carpenter, a professor of chemistry and chemical engineering, and the president of the VCU chapter of the American Association of University Professors, says a hold does not go far enough.

“It only interferes with them if they wish to drop a course or add a course. Otherwise, it does nothing. So after this week, it’s the end of drop-add. Therefore, there is no repercussion at all,” he said.

Earlier this week, Carpenter wrote a letter to VCU President Michael Rao asking him to tighten up the rules for unvaccinated students. The letter pointed to recent action taken by the University of Virginia to disenroll 300 students who were not vaccinated. Carpenter asked Rao to meet with faculty and discuss similar action at VCU.

“There is a lot of anxiety amongst faculty about the situation. They tend to be very concerned about variants, as they are spreading in our area. And the idea that we have unvaccinated students in close contact in their classrooms makes them justifiably nervous,” Carpenter told VPM.

He says the university administration has been receptive to faculty feedback. In an email, a spokesperson for VCU said they are working to reach as many students as possible that haven’t reported their vaccination status to encourage them to get the shot.

“VCU is considering adding administrative withdrawal to the progressive discipline process for unvaccinated students who are out of compliance with required public health measures,” said VCU Spokesperson Michael Porter. 

He added that of the 756 students who hadn’t reported their vaccination status by Wednesday morning, nearly 300 plan on taking a virtual course load and not coming on campus.

Of the 28,850 students enrolled at VCU this semester, 92.8% have reported they’re fully vaccinated, and 4.4% have received an approved exemption. 

VCU employees have until Sept. 15 to report their vaccination status. So far, around 90% of faculty and staff say they’ve received at least one shot, and only around 1% have filed for exemptions.