Letter on the Vaccine Mandate

Updated: September 27, 2021
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September 27, 2021

Dear Chancellor Matos Rodríguez, 

The PSC supports the University’s COVID vaccination mandate for students enrolled in in-person or hybrid classes. We understand the need to maintain the health and safety of each campus community by enforcing the student vaccination policy as a key component of the strategy to combat the virus. However, we are concerned that CUNY may keep the tuition of students who are withdrawn for non-compliance with today’s September 27 proof of vaccination deadline. If these students are dropped from Fall 2021 courses, they should receive a tuition reimbursement. Moreover, CUNY should work with financial aid officers, the State, and the Higher Education Services Corporation to ensure that these students are held harmless with respect to their eligibility for financial aid.  

The pandemic has hit New York City hard, particularly in the working-class, immigrant, and communities of color that CUNY serves. The economic dislocation students have endured through this devastating pandemic should not be compounded by CUNY policy. CUNY’s guidance to students taking in-person and hybrid classes hedged about the September 27 deadline, stating that failure to comply may lead to “potential” withdrawal from courses which “could” impact their financial aid and prevent tuition refunds. The PSC fully supports the University’s efforts to keep the virus off our campuses, but students who have not been vaccinated and cannot access campus should not be charged for classes they cannot take or impeded from making academic progress in the future. 

The current dilemma around administrative withdrawal of students highlights the need to make CUNY tuition-free once again. Many of the pressures bearing now on students, faculty, staff, and administrators would be alleviated if revenue did not depend so heavily on tuition and TAP. Decisions like this could be made solely on the basis of public health and best pedagogical practices. We hope that your administration will join the PSC in supporting the Build Back Better legislation that Congress is considering, and in turn support the New Deal for CUNY in the 2022 state budget. 

Sincerely, 

James Davis
President, PSC-CUNY