Campus

Cornell Offers Minority Students Exemption from Mandatory Vaccine

Cornell University / Source: Robert Barker/University Photography

Cornell University offers minority students an exemption from its flu vaccine requirement, citing the United States' "longstanding systemic racism and health inequities" as justification.

Cornell's health-requirement guidelines, which were first reported by Campus Reform, mandate that students studying on campus receive a flu vaccination. The university offers an exemption, however, for "students who identify as Black, Indigenous, or as a Person of Color" and have concerns about being required to take the vaccine.

The university cited current and historical systemic racism as an acceptable reason for minority students to seek an exemption.

"It is understandable that the current Compact requirements may feel suspect or even exploitative to some BIPOC members of the Cornell community," a university outline of the exemption reads. "Additionally, recent acts of violence against Black people by law enforcement may contribute to feelings of distrust or powerlessness."

While the university urges minority students to comply with the flu vaccine requirement to protect their health and that of others in the community, the health guidelines provide contact information for students who "may know the science and still feel distrusting of health care" to request an exemption.

The only other specifically outlined exception from the flu vaccine requirement is for medical or religious reasons. Nonexempt students who arrive on campus without the required vaccinations "will have a temporary hold placed on their registration status," according to Cornell Health. If Cornell finds them to be noncompliant, they will be charged a fee and "dis-enrolled from the university."