President Hanycz Message to the Campus Community
The following message from President Colleen Hanycz was shared with the Xavier community on August 25, 2021.
Dear Xavier Community:
In my nearly two months of serving as President of Xavier University, it is abundantly clear to me that a deep commitment to one another and to the common good defines this community. Sometimes, that spirit leads to self-sacrifice as we set aside our own individual wants and desires, in favor of the needs of the collective community. It is with that spirit in mind that I write to you with an important message.
As you are surely aware, the highly transmissible Delta variant is driving a resurgence of COVID-19 cases across the country, including in our region. Young and otherwise healthy people are experiencing a more direct impact from this strain of the virus. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Xavier has remained steadfast in our commitment to protecting the health, wellbeing, and safety of our students, faculty, and staff, a commitment that drives today’s decision.
With the full FDA approval of a COVID-19 vaccine, Xavier University will now require all students to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 prior to the start of the spring 2022 semester. There will be two deadlines related to this proof of immunization:
- Prior to October 18, 2021, students will be required to show proof of having received either full or partial (ie. first dose of a two-dose protocol) vaccination. Students who do not demonstrate this will not be permitted to register for classes for the spring 2022 semester.
- By January 3, 2022, students must complete their second dose and verify their full vaccination, if applicable (ie. Pfizer or Moderna), or they will be canceled from their spring 2022 classes.
Along with our other required vaccines, the COVID-19 vaccine is key to maintaining the health, safety, and normal operations of our community.
Also demanding our immediate attention, you may have noted a sharp increase in active student COVID-19 cases on our COVID-19 Dashboard. Cases are occurring with both unvaccinated and vaccinated (‘breakthrough’ cases) student populations, highlighting the challenge that our community faces. The good news is that 77% of our students and 85% of our faculty and staff are already fully vaccinated, and we anticipate an increase in those rates as we complete the final stages of surveying student and employee vaccination status over the next several days.
To date, students are reporting an increase of mild symptoms (fever, aches). Our experience thus far appears to mirror national trends in that those who are vaccinated but become infected can anticipate far less severe symptoms than those who are not vaccinated and become infected.
While we will continue to take steps to maximize the vaccination rates across our campus community, we must also take further action to address the spike in COVID cases as we begin this fall semester together. Based on our current environment, I am asking the Xavier community to take the following immediate steps:
- If you are not yet vaccinated, get your COVID-19 vaccine – now. Vaccines are available for all members of our community at Health Services at the HUB. Simply call 513-745-3022 option 3 to schedule an appointment. Do it for your own health and for the well-being of our community.
- Students, please reach out to your faculty members as soon as possible if you become ill or are placed into quarantine. Our faculty has always done an excellent job supporting students who are sick. I know our faculty members will work with you to stay on track as best as possible.
- A reminder that Xavier is currently under an indoor masking protocol that came into effect on Monday, August 9, 2021. We appreciate the entire community complying with this.
- And, finally, I ask that each and every member of the Xavier community renews their commitment to engage in meaningful risk-reducing behaviors. For students, please be mindful of your social settings and experiences. Through our contact tracing, we have confirmed that students are transmitting COVID-19 primarily in indoor, social settings. I trust that together, we will prioritize the common good, and I ask you all to take the actions necessary to protect our community.
I recognize that the decision to require vaccines is one that has become political and polarizing across our nation in recent days. And while there are certainly exceptions to the rule, the data clearly supports the claim that vaccinated populations are less likely to experience the more serious symptoms of a COVID-19 infection. This is especially critical as we are now experiencing, nationally, significant numbers of ‘breakthrough’ infections among those who have been fully vaccinated. It is largely accepted that the vaccine is a powerful tool in reducing COVID’s impacts, a tool that we need to fully utilize.
One of the most amazing qualities of our Xavier community, grounded in the gifts of our Ignatian heritage, has been a willingness – an enthusiasm, in fact – to support the needs of our collective family, even when that might require denying our own preferences. We remain convinced that we will support those needs best by taking these actions. This community has done extremely well to support our students and one another through this global pandemic. This is but another chapter in that book.
Thank you for your support in this matter.
Colleen M. Hanycz, PhD