'Vaccinate KU' is asking the University of Kansas administration to mandate COVID-19 vaccines

"Vaccinate KU" demonstration outside of Wescoe Hall
Posted at 10:27 PM, Sep 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-12 23:38:22-04

LAWRENCE, Kan. — Sunday night, students part of the “Vaccinate KU” movement at the University of Kansas are pleading with the administration to mandate COVID-19 vaccines as the novel coronavirus continues to spread.

The fear of contracting COVID-19 is causing professors to step back from the classroom and is forcing students to step up, asking KU to mandate COVID-19 vaccines.

“I’m not teaching because I don’t want it to be in the classroom and exposed,” said David Roediger, professor of American studies and history at KU.

Some students are confident the university will approve a vaccine mandate.

“I definitely 100% believe in KU mandating vaccines. You know, I don’t think it should be a question,” said Naomi Madu, an international student at KU.

Madu, a senior studying strategic communications at KU, recently visited her home country Nigeria. She realized the opportunity her unvaccinated classmates have to protect their community when it comes to taking advantage of available vaccines.

“It was just very jarring for me to be walking amongst people that would not be seeing a vaccine for at least two years,” Madu said.

Madu, Roediger and others fear without a vaccine mandate, students and staff at the university will continue to be at risk.

“I’m healthy immune-compromised — I’m finishing up some cancer treatment, and it’s a scary thing to go back and encounter students knowing you don’t have an immune system,” Roediger said.

Students tell KSHB 41 News as COVID-19 continues to spread in and around campus, some students also fear the return to online learning.

“It was just very hard to be all alone, no one to interact with, even if it was something that wasn’t necessarily fun,” Madu said.

Professors equally struggled when in-person classes went virtual.

“Last semester I taught online, which I also hated," Roediger said. "I mean, I like to see students. I think it's important to see students."

Nonetheless, students who attended the demonstration say they hope the administration and other students hear their plea and mandate COVID-19 vaccines sooner rather than later.

“I think the students and all of us who have doubts about public health need to realize that it isn’t an individual decision but a social decision,” Roediger said.

Vaccinate KU founder Sophie Kunin released a statement to KSHB 41 News.

“The next steps would be to request a meeting with the chancellor and provost themselves, sitting down to have a meeting in a week or two,” Kunin said. "The Vaccinate KU Movement will keep going until we have a vaccine requirement in place and safety precautions in place — whether that be continuing with social media education and advocacy or through other measures.”