Opinion Asks: COVID-19 Vaccinations for Dartmouth Students
As COVID-19 vaccines become more readily available around the nation, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu has announced that out-of-state students will not be eligible for vaccination in the state. Given this recent announcement, how do you think Dartmouth should respond? Does the College have an obligation to help secure vaccines for all students or is it more important that Dartmouth yields to state rules?
While Sununu’s recent announcement is particularly disappointing for out-of-state students who have yet to be vaccinated, such as myself, I respect his authority and believe that Dartmouth should defer to state guidance. Fortunately, the vast majority of out-of-state students do not fall into a “high-risk” group for severe complications from COVID-19. Additionally, the College and the state of New Hampshire have already done their parts to provide vaccines to vulnerable employees and community members. For instance, members of historically marginalized racial groups (for example, those who identify as BIPOC) were recently able to be vaccinated at a clinic in Lebanon. Young, healthy, out-of-state students are exactly that — “out-of-state” — and can qualify for the vaccine in their home states — unless, of course, they wish to declare themselves permanent residents of the Upper Valley.
— Michael Harrison ’24
It is frustrating to know that Dartmouth may be forced to put time and resources into fighting a state directive that should not even exist. Vague and baseless speculation of a slow vaccine rollout does not account for why Sununu has chosen not to vaccinate college students as a matter of principle — and to be clear, that’s exactly what he’s done. New Hampshire is deliberately withholding vaccine doses from some of its college students, endangering us and our surrounding communities.
The premise this guideline rests on, which is that out-of-state college students are not “real” New Hampshire residents, is a particularly dangerous one. Indeed, it has been used by the New Hampshire Republican Party in the recent past in their fight to suppress the college student vote. Clearly, New Hampshire Republicans are uncomfortable with the idea of how out-of-state college students — who often skew young, liberal and diverse — may impact the state, and will go to serious lengths in order to invalidate our presence here and, consequently, force the state red. We must not lose the sight of the fact that the picture they are constructing of New Hampshire is an incomplete one as long as it excludes out-of-state college students.
— Raniyan Zaman '22
Countless studies have shown that young adults have among the highest rates of COVID-19 infection across the country, and while the College has implemented restrictions to mitigate this risk, the winter term demonstrated that large outbreaks are still a significant threat to our community. Therefore, we find ourselves in dire need of a more permanent solution. The College should encourage Sununu and the state of New Hampshire to provide vaccinations for all students regardless of their place of residence. Through an equitable distribution of the vaccine, the College can ensure the safety of students and their surrounding communities.
— Kami Arabian ’24
Dartmouth shouldn’t bow to state rules when those rules make no sense. Sununu has used the vaccine rollout to score political points against college students, pitting these students against other New Hampshire residents. Of course, COVID-19 does not care one bit whether you are originally from another state or a lifetime New Hampshire resident; you can still get the virus and transmit it. Everyone living in New Hampshire should be able to get the vaccine here if the state really is serious about eradicating the virus. Dartmouth should push Sununu to reconsider his unscientific approach — and given his other actions, including attempting to suppress students’ right to vote, consider if he should be removed from his position on our Board of Trustees.
— Max Teszler ’23
Sununu would agree that his mission statement is to distribute vaccines to protect New Hampshirites. To achieve herd immunity, at least 70% to 85% of the population must be vaccinated. As of March 29, 16% of New Hampshire’s population is fully vaccinated, with 27% of the population having received at least one dose. However, New Hampshire must eventually confront the issue that many of its residents may choose not to be vaccinated.
It’s difficult to estimate what proportion of the New Hampshire population will decline the vaccine. A Pew Research Center poll found roughly 30% of Americans do not plan to be vaccinated. The 11% of New Hampshire’s population who are college students may prove to be a critical contribution to creating herd immunity. Thus, vaccinating all college students goes beyond the concerns of individual students —to achieve the goal of herd immunity, Sununu must allow out-of-state students to receive the vaccine.
— Hannah Dunleavy ’24