Emory College of Arts and Sciences (ECAS) faculty started a petition on July 11 asking the University to require all returning faculty, staff and post-doctoral fellows receive full COVID-19 vaccinations two weeks prior to the first day of classes. Currently, the University is only requiring students to be fully vaccinated by the time they arrive on campus.

Professor of History Clifton Crais, an organizer of the petition, sent an email on July 15 to University President Gregory Fenves notifying him of the faculty’s request and urging him to adopt the suggested policy. Crais said Fenves’ office acknowledged the petition and was told the topic will be discussed this week.

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Emory University Administration Building. Photo by Jason Oh.

Crais said that as of July 22, the petition amassed 174 names, including some from faculty in the Schools of Medicine, Law and Business.

Crais called current University policy a “contradiction” and considers Emory to be an outlier compared to other schools which require staff and faculty vaccinations.

“We are demanding, mandating vaccines for one population, the students, but not for other populations, faculty and staff,” Crais said. “We’re telling students to do one thing, and everyone else to do something different.”

The University did not directly address the petition or provide a timeline for updates in a July 16 statement from Assistant Vice President of Communications and Public Affairs Laura Diamond. 

Diamond pointed to the University’s COVID-19 safety guidelines outlined by administrators on June 3 in her response. The University declined to clarify why faculty and staff are not mandated to receive a COVID-19 vaccine while students are required. 

Crais cited recently implemented vaccination policies from peer institutions including Johns Hopkins University (Md.), the University of Chicago (Ill.) and Washington University in St. Louis, whose administrations now require vaccinations for all students, faculty and staff. 

The University of Chicago goes further, requiring proof of vaccination from “anyone who is doing business on behalf of the university.” Washington University indicated sanctions, including termination for employees and loss of campus building access, for students, faculty and staff who don’t provide their vaccination status by Aug. 30. The requested two week period prior to campus return was chosen based on when an individual is considered to be fully vaccinated after receiving their final dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, Crais said.