A college Senior says that he chose virtual classes to abide by the University’s stated policy, but now he is being barred from his online classes.
Logan Hollar, 22, transferred to Rutgers University in 2020 and took virtual classes when the school locked down during the pandemic.
In March, Rutgers announced that it would require all students to be vaccinated before returning to campus for the Fall semester. It was the first university in the country to mandate vaccines for students at all of its campuses.
The statement allowed for medical and religious exemptions, and also noted that “[s]tudents enrolled in fully remote online degree programs and individuals participating in online-only continuing education programs will not be required to be vaccinated.”
“I’m not in an at-risk age group. I’m healthy and I work out. I don’t find COVID to be scary,” Hollar told NJ.com. “If someone wants to be vaccinated, that’s fine with me, but I don’t think they should be pushed.”
The requirement was for students “returning to campus”, so Hollar, a Psychology major, decided to take all of his Senior classes online because he doesn’t want to get the vaccine.
“When they put out the guidance in March, I was reading through all the verbiage, which was if you plan to return to campus, you need to be vaccinated,” said Hollar. “I figured I wouldn’t be part of that because all my classes were remote.”
Even though all of his classes are online, the program that Hollar is enrolled in is not exempt from the vaccine requirement, which he learned very late.
He was able to check his Rutgers email without issue in early August and filled out a required survey on the coronavirus where he had to indicate his vaccination status. In the survey, he checked a box that said that the vaccine requirement didn’t apply to his program — which turns out to be incorrect. There wasn’t a pop-up message urging him to be vaccinated as there was in the past.
Just days before classes began, he realized that he was locked out of his Rutgers accounts.
On Aug. 27, he said, he went online to pay his tuition but he was locked out of his Rutgers email and related accounts.
He said he called the university’s vaccine hotline, and a representative said he had to be vaccinated even if his classes were all remote.
From that time, Hollar said, he made multiple attempts to get answers about why he has to get the vaccine if he’s not on campus.
One representative said Hollar could request an exemption, so he did. If accepted, it could take two to four weeks before he was reinstated, he said he was told. That would mean he’d miss three weeks of classes, or more.
“Days later, I called back since I hadn’t received anything. They told me that unfortunately, they had decided that they would not grant waivers for anyone who had put in for them past Aug. 23, even though I was told that I could get one with no problem on the 27th.”
Hollar has been unable to attend classes, which started Sept. 1. Hollar said he knows another student in the same position.
Hollar’s stepfather, Keith Williams said that he was dumbfounded when he was told about the situation.
“He chose to remove himself from an on-campus experience so he would not need to be vaccinated,” Williams said. “Now to be removed and shut down from his Rutgers email and online classes during the start of his senior year seems a bit crazy.”
Rutgers U spokesperson, Dory Devlin, said that the policy hasn’t changed since March and it’s been clear.
“Since March, we have provided comprehensive information and direction to students to meet vaccine requirements through several communications channels, including our university websites, direct emails, and messages relayed throughout the registration and enrollment processes,” she said.
She noted that Rutgers’ policy says: “Registering for classes that are fully remote (synchronous/asynchronous) is not the same as being enrolled in a fully online degree-granting program.”…
…“Since March, we have provided comprehensive information and direction to students to meet vaccine requirements through several communications channels, including our university websites, direct emails, and messages relayed throughout the registration and enrollment processes,” she said.
She noted that Rutgers’ policy says: “Registering for classes that are fully remote (synchronous/asynchronous) is not the same as being enrolled in a fully online degree-granting program.”
No nuance in policy to allow an exemption for someone who is willingly taking himself off-campus in order to comply with the policy.
Hollar says that he doesn’t think that he needs to be vaccinated if all of his classes are remote. He says that if faced with the choice of vaccination or transferring to a different school, he’s pretty firm on not getting the vaccine.
“I find it concerning for the vaccine to be pushed by the university rather than my doctor,” said Hollar. “I’ll probably have to transfer to a different university.”
“I don’t care if I have access to campus. I don’t need to be there. They could ban me,” he said. Hollar summed up what many people who refuse the vaccine are feeling, “I just want to be left alone.”
Amen, brother! Amen.