Several hundred people participated in a rally Friday on the campus of Rutgers University, protesting the college's requirement that students must show proof of being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to attend in-person classes.
MyCentralJersey.com reports protesters held up political and anti-COVID vaccine posters while chanting, "My body, my choice," "Our kids, our choice" and "It ends now."
Rutgers and other colleges and universities are now requiring students to be vaccinated before the start of the fall semester.
USNews.com reports a database maintained by the Chronicle of Higher Education indicates that more than 360 public and private colleges across the U.S. will require students to get a COVID-19 vaccination, and experts expect more schools to follow suit.
While some students agree with Rutgers policy, many also disagree.
"I believe the vaccine should be a personal choice between the student and doctor, not the university," said Sara Razi, a political science major.
"It shouldn't be forced. Forcing us to take the vaccine to take in-person classes," said Maryam Wahba, a Rutgers junior.
Rutgers released a statement saying in part that their commitment is to create a safe campus environment and to support the health and safety for all members of the Rutgers community.
The policy holds some limited exceptions for some students who have medical or religious reasons.
Some conservative state legislators also spoke against the Rutgers requirement.
"Our children should not have to choose between going to a good state college and going out of state," said Assemblywoman Serena DiMaso, R-Monmouth.
"Let me talk to the doctor and let me decide," said Assemblyman Gerry Scharfenberger, R-Monmouth, who has introduced an Assembly bill opposing mandatory "vaccine passports."
There have been 2,427 COVID-19 cases at Rutgers' campuses in New Brunswick, Camden, and Newark, according to MyCentralJersey.com.
According to USNews.com, how colleges approach the issue of COVID-19 vaccines varies. They generally fall into four categories: requiring vaccines; offering students incentives to get immunized voluntarily; not requiring the shots and adopting a wait-and-see approach. The majority of schools are in the last category.
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