Compliance Over Science

Michigan’s Ross School of Business recently released guidelines for students who are non-compliant with the university’s vaccine and booster mandates. Students who have at least one semester more of their college experience will not be allowed to register for classes that they need to graduate if they have not yet completed their series or been approved for an exemption. While one can name many reasons why this policy is ineffective and unethical, it is in the punishments for non-compliant seniors that the administration reveals the true game of these mandates.

Graduating seniors who have not been thrice jabbed “will not be able to receive a diploma, receive an official transcript nor request a ‘letter of completion’ for their degree,” reads the March 7 email to BBA students.

If we are to accept the founding myth of the mandates, that they are a means of reducing transmission of COVID-19, the restrictions on current unvaccinated students make at least a modicum of practical sense. If the mandates were effective at preventing transmission, the university would have an interest in ensuring that its student body was vaccinated.

However, there is no university-wide public health benefit in requiring graduates to be vaccinated in order to enter the workforce. This is the case precisely because they will not be here next year.

However, there is no university-wide public health benefit in requiring graduates to be vaccinated in order to enter the workforce. This is the case precisely because they will not be here next year.

Charitably read, the intention behind the punishment is clear. Seniors will be interacting with each other and the rest of the student body for the remainder of their academic career, so the university would want them vaccinated. The policy needs some mechanism of enforcement, and refusing them their diplomas would be one way of creating it.

But if we fast forward to the point at which a non-compliant senior would feel the effect of the punishment, we see that it is totally ineffective. That point is when the senior requests his diploma or transcript, and the university must deny it.

By then, he has already completed all of his classes and interacted with his fellow students as much as any vaccinated individual. There is nothing the university gains, at this point, by refusing to send him his diploma.

If anything, there would be a detrimental effect. If the university were to simply mail him his diploma and “letter of completion,” they would be finished dealing with the student, and he would be free to spread his unclean unvaccinated germs outside of the campus community.

Refusing him these certificates would keep him around, as he would likely be haggling with the school to give him his diploma, leading to the university dealing with an unvaccinated student more, simply for the sake of forcing his compliance.

This is the danger of these unscientific mandates. When they are not holistically and expressly geared toward preventing the transmission of COVID-19 from one student to another, their punishments become ways of ensuring compliance. Instead of protecting students, they punish them solely for disobeying the university.

This is the danger of these unscientific mandates. When they are not holistically and expressly geared toward preventing the transmission of COVID-19 from one student to another, their punishments become ways of ensuring compliance. Instead of protecting students, they punish them solely for disobeying the university.

The COVID-19 vaccines are miracles of medical science that have saved countless lives. I have voluntarily received all three doses that have been required, and I believe that choice is the correct one for most of my peers. Still, I can understand the reasons why others would choose something different from me. More importantly, I can catch and spread COVID-19 just as easily as those who have not made the same choice.

In terms of public health, there is no reason to treat the vaccinated and unvaccinated differently. The mandates then become compliance tests. They reward those who do what the government tells them while stifling those who do not, independent of the science.

We live in a free society, and that means that we will all make different choices from one another. The price of living in this society is respecting the right of others to make those choices, even if we disagree with them.

The choice of whether or not to vaccinate remains a completely personal one from national health advisors, and it must be treated as such. That means not favoring one choice over another because a university agrees with it.

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About Charles Hilu

Editor-in-Chief Charles Hilu is a senior studying political science. In addition to his writing, Charles serves as the Chairman of Young Americans for Freedom at the University of Michigan. He has interned at the Washington Examiner and, most recently, National Review.