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Cornell vaccine mandate only applies to white students

Police violence against blacks ‘may contribute to feelings of distrust or powerlessness’

One of the amazing things we learned in 2020 is that the novel coronavirus can’t infect people who attend Black Lives Matter protests. Science!

Apparently the seasonal influenza is even more considerate, at least at Cornell University.

The Ivy League school offers a race-based exemption from its new mandatory flu shot, requiring only white students to get immunized before returning to the area.

Cornell started requiring flu immunizations this academic year for all students “studying in Ithaca” – not just those attending classes in person – enforced through the Behavioral Compact.

It’s not to protect students from the flu, the FAQ reads, but so that “medical services and other support resources can be fully available to serve students who may be exposed to COVID-19” (an infection that threatens very few of them).

So-called black, indigenous and people of color are welcome to tax Cornell health resources, however.

MORE: College exempts 500-person BLM protest from 10-person COVID rules

A Cornell Health page “especially for students of color,” highlighted by Campus Reform, explains why it’s giving a pass to nonwhite students:

We recognize that, due to longstanding systemic racism and health inequities in this country, individuals from some marginalized communities may have concerns about needing to agree to such requirements. For example, historically, the bodies the of Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color (BIPOC) have been mistreated, and used by people in power, sometimes for profit or medical gain. It is understandable that the current Compact requirements may feel suspect or even exploitative to some BIPOC members of the Cornell community. Additionally, recent acts of violence against Black people by law enforcement may contribute to feelings of distrust or powerlessness.

While the university “strongly recommend[s]” that nonwhite students comply voluntarily, because “long-standing social inequalities and health disparities have resulted in COVID-19 disproportionately affecting BIPOC individuals,” they will be granted an exemption if they cite their racial identity.

Cornell also offers exemptions from mandatory immunizations – not just the flu – under a broader “non-medical/religious” category in state law, but getting such an exemption appears to be more stringent than the easy opt-out for self-identified BIPOC students.

Medical exemptions require a note from a “physician, physician assistant, or nurse practitioner” that specifies “which immunizations are contraindicated and why, and how long the medical contraindication will last.”

MOREBoston University exempts BLM events from COVID size limits

The religious exemption is personally intrusive, requiring the seeker to “[d]escribe the religious principles that guide your objection to immunization” and specify whether they oppose “all immunizations” or just specific ones. If the latter, they must explain “the religious basis that prohibits particular immunizations.”

The BIPOC exemption only appears to apply to flu vaccination, but it mentions no requirements such students must fulfill to be granted the exemption. They must only claim to be a “person of color” – a wholly subjective category, as is evident by Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s career.

The ideological exemptions from campus COVID-19 protocols didn’t start with race. Harvard created an amnesty for students who violate COVID-19 restrictions if they report sexual misconduct, even if they don’t claim to be a victim or have witnessed such misconduct. So did Minnesota’s St. Olaf College.

It’s pretty obvious both of these exemptions are ripe for abuse, and have nothing to do with science. They were simply devised to give preferential treatment to campus constituencies feared by administrators.

It would surely be easier for administrators to just recognize the science of COVID-19, that college students are at low risk absent other health problems, and stop treating them like white-collar prisoners.

But that would require independent thinking and willingness to relinquish control over students’ lives – traits not evident in the bloated, censorious campus bureaucracy.

MORE: USF allows BLM protest after telling student groups not to gather

IMAGE: Dmitry Naumov/Shutterstock

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Greg Piper served as associate editor of The College Fix from 2014 to 2021.