GREENCASTLE — DePauw University will require students to be vaccinated against COVID-19 for the 2021-22 school year.
The residential university sent out emails on Monday letting the campus community know about the decision. DePauw follows the University of Notre Dame, which announced a vaccine requirement for students in early April.
DePauw associate vice president for campus wellness Stevie Baker-Watson has overseen many aspects of DePauw's COVID-19 response. She said the university wants students to be able to enjoy themselves and feel comfortable.
"The decision to require the COVID-19 vaccine was just one of those mitigation strategies for us. We think that it's key in terms of being able to get back to the campus that the students like with some level of vibrancy they aren't finding right now," Baker-Watson said.
Liz Busch, a senior, said she wants students who will be at the school after she graduates to get the full DePauw experience she had for most of her time in college.
"One of the reasons I think DePauw is so special is because we are close-knit community," Busch said. "Coming from a senior perspective, I know how fun and special this close-knit community is and can be once we're all safe."
The university is prepared, however, to offer options for students who decide against getting vaccinated.
"We offer both medical and religious exemptions for our students," Baker-Watson said.
She encourages students to talk to their doctors and families to come to the best decision for themselves. This is a good thing for Faith Harrington, who is a freshman who doesn't plan to get vaccinated.
"It's for religious beliefs. My mother doesn't want me to get it and I'm a Christian, so I'm supposed to honor my mother and father. So, I'm not going to get it," Harrington said.
DePauw's numbers show more than two-thirds of students are already vaccinated. Many others say they intend to be vaccinated. That's something Busch is happy about as she prepares to graduate.
"Everyone is just really craving that unity and the community at this point. Whatever it takes, we will get the shot to make this fall semester for students what it should be," Busch said.
For students who are exempted from getting vaccinated, they may not be able to participate in all aspects of campus life. If an outbreak occurs, they could be asked to quarantine away from other students or leave campus.