In Florida and Texas, governors have issued executive orders prohibiting companies from requiring customers to provide proof of immunization. It’s not always clear whether the same rules apply to schools, but signals from the state government are hard to miss.
One of the first colleges in the country to adopt a vaccination mandate was Nova Southeastern University, based in Fort Lauderdale, which released its announcement a week after Rutgers on April 2. On the same day, Governor Ron DeSantis signed the ordinance, cutting state subsidies. and contracts with local businesses requiring customers to provide proof of vaccination.
A month later, the university turned around, canceling the tenure, presumably because it was deemed to violate the new law.
The university’s about-face has served as an edifying tale for other state colleges run by Republicans. In Florida, there are currently no campuses requiring a vaccine. In Texas there are only two, both private.
But some university presidents in conservative states that have broken away from the pack and imposed vaccination point to the particular vulnerabilities of their student body.
“We are a historically black college that represents a segment of the population that has been disproportionately affected by this,” said Michael J. Sorrell, president of Paul Quinn College, a private institution in Dallas. “Our reality is a very different reality.”
Tom Stritikus, president of Fort Lewis College in the mountains of rural Colorado, described how representatives of the nearby South Indian Ute tribe approached the campus to arrange for vaccinations for their members enrolled in the university. Then, in an effort to create a protective bubble around these students, the tribe’s medical team went further and offered vaccinations to the students’ roommates and teachers.