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Calif. colleges demand COVID booster compliance: shut off WiFi, threaten punishments

California universities have mandated their students get COVID vaccines and boosters, and are taking a variety of approaches to ensure 100 percent compliance, from shutting off students’ WiFi access to offering cash payouts to threatening suspensions and expulsions.

The massive 10-campus University of California system’s COVID policy states that students who do not comply with the requirement of being fully vaccinated, which includes a booster shot, will be “barred from physical presence at University facilities and programs, and may experience consequences … up to and including dismissal from educational programs.”

At UC Irvine, they’re starting with shutting off students’ WiFi access. In addition, students who have not submitted evidence of their full vaccination record will receive a “Red ZotPass” that prohibits them from using campus services.

One UCI student had to get her booster shot so she could access the WiFi at the university after it was shut off, a parent told The College Fix.

The College Fix reached out to UCI’s Senior Director of Communications and Public Relations asking how many students they have turned off the WiFi on, but has not received a response.

UC San Diego, meanwhile, took a more carrot-stick approach, although on paper it’s still a mandate. Its “Boost for Bucks” program provided students with $10 of “Triton Cash” if they got boosted by March 1.

UCSD Chancellor Pradeep Khosla also enacted a challenge called “Boostin’ Out for Basic Needs,” promising to donate $50,000 to the Basic Needs Hub if 10,000 students got boosted before the beginning of 2022.

Students who don’t comply with the vaccine requirements, however, “may face disciplinary actions or be unable to participate in on-campus activities,” according to UCSD’s website.

UCSD’s academic and student affairs media contact did not respond to The College Fix’s request for comment.

University of California Riverside put out a video on YouTube with its Chancellor Kim Wilcox, asking his students to “comply with [the] vaccine mandate immediately,” explaining that there will be consequences for non-compliance individually and collectively.

On the individual level, students could be punished with delayed registration or disenrollment, while on the collective level, students could not be able to partake in a “vibrant campus,” as they would not be able to have gatherings, meetings, or events, according to Wilcox in the video.

Additionally, UCR has posted a COVID-19 Vaccine Policy and Registration Conduct Flowchart illustrating the different pathways and various degrees of “student compliance with [the] vaccine program.”

Depending on the actions taken by students concerning their vaccine status, there are multiple consequences they may face, as listed on the flowchart. These include “registration for in-person classes canceled,” “registration canceled in full,” “upheld or modified + sanctions applied up to suspension or dismissal,” and “sanctions applied up to suspension or dismissal.”

UCR’s spokesperson has not replied to The College Fix’s inquiry about its consequences for non-compliance.

At University of California Berkeley, students who do not comply with the vaccine requirements will receive an “enrollment hold” and will not be able to register for classes.

Adam Ratliff, UCB’s assistant director of media relations, said in an email sent to The College Fix that students who did not comply with the UC’s policy by Feb. 1 have received consequences, including an enrollment hold that will “apply to Spring 2022 terms and beyond (i.e., they will be prevented from enrolling in any additional classes, including future semesters, until the hold is removed).”

“We estimate at this time that approximately 6,000 students are non-compliant with our booster policy,” he said.

MORE: ‘Covid Sheep’: Harvard students comply, conform on path to elite status

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About the Author
Allie Simon -- University of California San Diego