On Wednesday, October 13, 2021, The Pennsylvania State University announced that employees who wish to keep their jobs must submit to one of the controversial Covid injections by the end of November. This mandate also applies to paid graduate students and certain contractors.
After months of preserving a tenuous peace among a community with differing opinions concerning the relative risks and benefits of the vaccines, President Barron has capitulated to federal pressure, and pressure from university faculty (who overwhelmingly support forced vaccination for everyone on campus, including students). Instead of standing up against the Biden administration's unconstitutional executive order of September 9, 2021, requiring COVID-19 vaccination for all federal employees, contractors and many others, President Barron is using this federal directive as cover to force all University Park faculty and staff, regardless of whether or not they work on federal contracts, to submit proof that they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by December 8.
In utter disregard of the growing evidence that the Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson injections pose a potentially greater risk of harm than protection against disease among younger members of the population (especially among young men). in disregard of the evidence that efficacy of the vaccines wanes in a matter of months, and in further disregard of the overwhelming evidence that natural immunity acquired after infection "confers longer lasting and stronger protection against infection, symptomatic disease and hospitalization caused by the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2, compared to the BNT162b2 two-dose vaccine-induced immunity," University administrators have chosen to follow the Biden administration in prioritizing politics over public health.
A year ago it might have been justifiable to argue that mandatory vaccination prevents community transmission. But this argument is totally unsupported by evidence as of October of 2021. Penn State has a reputation as a research institution, and yet Penn State administrators are failing to take into account the best recent research as they set policy impacting the lives and livelihoods of thousands of students and employees. Reducing community transmission is no justification for a vaccine mandate in late 2021. Vaccination does not prevent vaccinated individuals from shedding live virus when they are infected. See, for example, "Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 Delta Variant Among Vaccinated Healthcare Workers, Vietnam," (31 Pages Posted: 11 Oct 2021).
As more and more adverse reactions from vaccination are being reported daily, conscientious public officials and policy makers would be well advised to follow the lead of Sweden, Iceland, and Denmark, in limiting the use of these injections rather than doubling down on visibly failing one-size-fits-all policies that not only do not prevent transmission of disease but also violate the spirit of liberty and personal autonomy that once defined what it meant to be an American citizen (and what it meant to be a scholar).
Intelligent people can and in a free society would hold differing opinions as to whether or not COVID vaccine mandates are actually capable of conferring a significant public health benefit. For example, recent spikes in highly- vaccinated countries like Israel and the UK, and in highly-vaccinated states like Vermont, suggest that the entire mass vaccination project may ultimately prove to have been a largely futile endeavour. But even were we to accept uncritically the rosy picture painted by the Big Pharma lobbyists and the career bureaucrats at the FDA, NIH, and CDC, there are even more fundamental issues at stake-- issues that go to the heart of what it means to be an American and what it means to be a public university.
By forcing out faculty, students, and employees who for medical, religious, philosophical, or purely pragmatic reasons refuse to subject themselves to the COVID injections, Penn State will effectively eliminate the last remnants of ideological diversity from its campuses. The voices of reasoned dissent will no longer be heard in any workplace or in any classroom, and there will be no one left ask probing questions that challenge the status quo and the 'official' line. The academy will be replaced by an echo chamber.
Employees with valid religious and medical objections to this unconstitutional mandate can and will win in court on the basis of well-established legal precedent. And fortunately for affected employees, such legal victories often include reimbursement of attorneys fees. However, such court challenges should be unnecessary precisely because the law is clear. By your signature on this petition, you are urging president Barron and Penn State administrators to restore personal autonomy and intellectual freedom at Penn State, and to choose freedom over fear, choice over coercion, and innovation over intimidation.