A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

SGA supports on-campus vaccine mandate

The logo of Santa Rosa Junior Colleges Student Government Assembly.
Courtesy SRJC
SGA officers voted 6-1 to support a vaccine mandate for students, faculty and staff on campus at the Sept. 13 meeting.

Santa Rosa Junior College Student Government Assembly officers voted 6-1 in support of a vaccine mandate for everyone on SRJC’s campuses after discussion of safety and ethics at its Sept. 13 virtual meeting. 

“As president, I feel responsible for our 20,000 students,” said Student Body President Delashay Carmona Benson. “It took me a lot to get vaccinated because I was against it on so many levels: on government levels, myth levels, just scared of shots levels.” 

“But I had to think about more than myself,” Carmona Benson said. “If a student catches COVID-19 on campus from another student or faculty member and dies, that’s something we all have to sleep with. So, I have to think of safety first. I’m asking [the SGA officers] to think the same way: safety.”

Carmona Benson and Student Trustee Anetra McCartney will present the SGA vote as the students’ voice to the SRJC Board of Trustees on Sept. 14 to push the Board to approve a vaccine mandate for everyone on campus.

At this meeting, SRJC President Dr. Frank Chong will present a resolution that mandates full vaccination or weekly testing for everyone on campus through 2021 and requires full vaccination for everyone on campus without a testing option starting Jan. 1, 2022.

After nearly an hourlong discussion, most SGA officers agreed to support an on-campus vaccine mandate that allows exemptions for medical conditions and religious beliefs. The Student Senate for California Community Colleges Board of Directors urged colleges to enact such a mandate on Aug. 27.

Safety for students, faculty, staff and the community was the main point of consensus, rising above concerns of personal liberty and vaccine misinformation.

McCartney, a health sciences major, encouraged people to look at the science. 

“If we look at the disease itself and how it’s continuously mutating, it’s getting harder for us to protect ourselves and to protect the most at-risk people,” said McCartney. “If we can do something to slow the mutation rate and get rid of it once and for all, why not do it?”

Santa Rosa Vice President of Clubs Irmina Benson sees the issue as scientific and ethical. 

“If you look at the statistics of who is being affected most by this pandemic, it’s those that are already affected the most by all public health issues: that’s brown and Black people,” Irmina Benson said. 

“Politics aside, it’s a medical and ethical choice to try to contribute to having fewer cases in our city. I actually don’t even understand why it’s up for debate.”

Petaluma Vice President of Clubs Elizabeth Cole abstained from the vote and only Vice President of Finance Moses Legesse opposed the vaccine mandate.

“I like the way that it’s set up right now with the soft mandate,” Legesse said. “I feel like that’s fair. It’s not over impeding on anyone’s liberties. I’m not vaccinated and I don’t intend on getting vaccinated unless I really have to. I think I’ve had COVID and it sucked, but it is what it is.” 

“Nobody should be able to tell me what I’m putting in my body,” Legesse continued. “This is the United States of America and what we’re all granted is liberty.”

Carmona Benson said she had heard from students in favor of and opposed to the mandate, but of SRJC’s 20,000 students, only 18 approached her in opposition.

The meeting concluded with the 6-1 vote and a call for more education to dispel misinformation about the vaccine so people feel more comfortable getting it.

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About the Contributor
Audrey Fry
Audrey Fry, Reporter
Audrey Fry (she/her) is exploring new careers at SRJC after teaching science for many years. She likes learning and organizing information so that it's useful for others. This is her second semester at The Oak Leaf. Outside of class, Audrey can be found playing with her new puppy, watching “Nova” on PBS or reading “The Lord of the Rings.”

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