The deadline to submit verification for COVID-19 vaccines has passed, which means most students who are not yet verified or have yet to claim an exemption will be unable to register for spring 2022 and have been locked out of their portals, according to a timeline provided by the Cal State University chancellor’s office.
The timeline stated that non-compliant students should have been disabled from all campus access including email as of the Sept. 30 deadline. They will also receive a letter from the dean of students notifying them of their non-compliance and how they might face further discipline.
These students lost access to their portals as early as Sept. 20 and only have access to submit their verification or file for an exemption according to the vaccine enforcement letter for students. Students are notified by email daily until compliance is met, according to the letter.
According to the Titans Return webpage, students who elect to take all online classes for the upcoming semester are required to vaccinate. These students will receive a message in their portals in which they must attest to not being on campus for any reason.
Ellen Treanor, the associate vice president for strategic communications, said in an email that these students can be tracked through their IP addresses, but the honor system will be used.
“We don’t expect that students will be outright lying, of course. We are all in this together and we have responsibility to our community,” Treanor said.
Emails have started being sent out for spring registration appointment dates, but Treanor said the schedule is yet to be finalized. She said that it is her understanding that there will be more in-person classes next semester.
Students may file for an exemption based on medical or religious purposes, but the accepted reasons for exemptions have broadened to include “beliefs, observances or practices which an individual sincerely holds and that occupy a place of importance in that individual’s life, comparable to that of traditionally recognized religions.”
While not required to get vaccinated, students who are exempt are required to submit to weekly on-site testing.
As of Sept. 28, 5% of students were exempt from the mandate, 83% have had their vaccinations verified and the other 12% are either awaiting verification or are waiting for their second dose, according to the CSUF COVID-19 Cases and Exposures Dashboard.
It is unclear what percentage of students are refusing to participate with the mandate altogether.
In an email, Treanor said that everything is being done to avoid students being locked out of their portals. She also said that extensions to the original deadline are being granted for those who are waiting on the second dose and that the extension will last for up to 30 days.
“The intention of the university is to not impede a student's path to graduation,” Treanor said in an email.
Morgan Dack, a child and adolescent studies major, said that she is unvaccinated and filed for an exemption based on religious beliefs before the semester started. She said that the vaccine does not go against her religious beliefs, but she does not think she should be required to get vaccinated if everyone is required to wear a mask.
“There’s nothing that says getting a vaccination is wrong because, obviously, I have many vaccinations, but I just don’t feel like it is necessary or OK to require everyone to get it — even those that are healthy,” Dack said.
Dack said that her exemption took about two weeks to be cleared, and she said she was afraid about whether or not she was allowed to physically be on-campus until it cleared.
As part of her exemption, one of the requirements is weekly testing, which she said was fair. She said, however, there is no accountability system in place that tracks whether or not she’s actually being tested.
She said that she usually only gets tested when she displays symptoms since we are in the cold season.
“I don’t mind it, but someone else might,” Dack said.
According to the CSU policy, religious exemptions are granted for: “(i) a person's sincerely held religious belief, observance, or practice, which includes any traditionally recognized religion, or (ii) beliefs, observances, or practices which an individual sincerely holds and that occupy a place of importance in that individual's life, comparable to that of traditionally recognized religions.”
Marcos Zelada, a public relations major and President of Turning Point USA’s local chapter,said he had not submitted verification of his vaccination status before the deadline or filed for an exemption, citing medical privacy and freedom as his reasoning. Turning Point USA held protests denouncing the vaccine requirements on campus on Sept. 30.
Initially, he said he felt that opting out was the answer, but decided to file for an exemption.
“I will be working an exemption so as to not lose and throw to waste my parents’ sacrifice of coming to the U.S. legally and starting all over for me and my brother. I am disgusted and ashamed of what this University administration has done, the CSU administration, and the State of California,” Zelada said in an email.