Oakland University’s lack of broad vaccination mandate has some faculty concerned

University offering $100 incentive to get vaccinated

Oakland University does not have a broad vaccination mandate and some faculty members are concerned.
Oakland University does not have a broad vaccination mandate and some faculty members are concerned.

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. – On Monday, the University of Michigan announced it is joining Michigan State University in requiring face coverings indoors on campus.

Both schools are also requiring all students and staff to be vaccinated.

More: University of Michigan: Face coverings required indoors starting Aug. 11

Oakland University is on board with the masking, but so far the college only has a vaccine requirement for some students.

“I know it is for the greater good, but where is our choice too,” said Veera Attisha whose daughter is an incoming freshman at Oakland University.

Medical students are already on campus at Oakland University.

Meanwhile, the rest of the community will start reporting Sept. 2, a week before Labor Day.

Students living in residential housing, the university mandates, must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as the president of the college announced Friday.

“This is because we know that this is the best tool for everyone, so that is a requirement for students living in dorms. It does not mean that I don’t want every single one of you, every single student, every single faculty member, and every single staff member to also get the vaccine. Go get the vaccine as soon as possible,” said Dr. Ora Hirsch Pescovitz, Oakland University president.

There is a $100 incentive to get vaccinated by uploading your documentation into the university portal.

Dr. Pescovitz added that the new delta variant is far more virulent. That means it is more infectious and dangerous than the original COVID-19 virus.

Because of that there is a mask mandate. The face coverings must be worn in all indoor spaces regardless of vaccination status.

The American Association of University Professors, the school’s largest faculty union says it’s not enough and more must be done.

“What we want is a mandate for vaccinations of the entire Oakland University community, that means certainly all of the faculty, but all of the students, all of the staff, all of the administrators. We want to make sure that all of those people who come to Oakland University’s campus are less likely to be spreading COVID,” said Karen Miller, faculty union representative.

As Local 4 News prepared to interview Miller on campus she felt more comfortable cancelling after learning moments before about being exposed to a positive case of COVID.

“Until I get the results of the test which hopefully will be negative, I would prefer not to interact with the public,” said Miller.

And therein is her argument because even fully vaccinated or inoculated you can still carry the delta variant and infect others.

More than 80 percent of campus union membership says it wants, it needs and expects a vaccine mandate for all students, faculty and staff.

Thus far, the university leadership has not changed course and in fact both union and administrators are currently meeting for contract negotiations.

However, if a mandate is not put in place before the start of the semester, staffers warn, it could spell chaos and disruptions for incoming students expecting in person classes, because many faculty members say they will demand a quick return to remote teaching.

“My deepest fear is faculty will resign,” said Miller.

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About the Authors:

Paula Tutman is an Emmy award-winning journalist who came to Local 4 in 1992. She's a Peace Corps alum who spent her early childhood living in Sierra Leone, West Africa and Tanzania and East Africa.

Natasha Dado is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit.