ORONO, Maine — Students, faculty, and staff in the University of Maine system have one week left to verify proof of their vaccination status. The deadline to submit the information is Friday, October 15th.
University administrators reported a residential vaccination rate of 97.2% across all campuses. As of Thursday, there were a total of 49 positive COVID-19 cases across the University of Maine System. 41 of those positive cases were among students at the campus in Orono.
The university reported that 650 students still need to submit their proof of vaccination before the deadline. In Orono, President Joan Ferrini-Mundy said there will be consequences if students, faculty, and staff don't submit that information by October 15th.
"We actually will be dis-enrolling students, taking them out of their courses, and making it not possible for them to register," Ferrini-Mundy said.
Ferrini-Mundy added she is grateful for the compliance of the University of Maine community members who have submitted that information so far.
But of course, not everyone is on board. Eric Martin, a professor at the University of Maine, wrote an open letter to Chancellor Dannel Malloy on September 26th that was shared with other faculty and advising members.
The letter states, in part:
"Dear Chancellor Malloy,
I would like to take an opportunity to address significant concerns that I have with your inoculation requirements for the University System (Inoculation is used as a vaccine in the traditional sense provides immunity). As you are a public official and have issued several public statements, I believe it is best to bring up these concerns openly. I have copied faculty and staff in my department (Mechanical Engineering), the Dean of Engineering, the Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost, the President, and all my academic advisees (cc'd for their privacy), all at UMaine, and finally the Board of Trustees. This letter may be shared by anyone and with anyone.
As an academic advisor to over 40 students and a lecturer in a department with over 450 undergraduate students, I am concerned that you are mandating an inoculation that is potentially dangerous and marginally effective; using fear, threats, and intimidation; for a virus that has little threat to the student community. Because of this, I fear that many will feel forced to take an inoculation against their will in the name of “The Choice is Yours”. The students have heard from you, and I’m certain that many agree. But what about those who don’t agree? From whom do they get support?"
Chancellor Malloy responded to the letter on September 28th. He said:
Thank you for taking the time to express your views about COVID vaccination, testing, and other matters in your September 26, 2021 "open letter" to me. In the same spirit, you are welcome to share this response with whomever you choose.
Well before the beginning of the pandemic, System and university leaders and I have developed UMS COVID response and health and safety protocols and made decisions in accordance with the best available epidemiological science and public health standards. To put it simply, as leaders of Maine's public higher education institutions, we trust the peer-reviewed science of COVID public health protocols and the efficacy of FDA-approved vaccines and will continue to advocate for the widest possible adherence and use of them.
You have the right to express your views, and I've carefully reviewed them. I respectfully disagree with them. Given the responsibility that ultimately rests with me as Chancellor for the public health and safety of our university communities, as well as of the Maine communities in which we teach, research, and work, I am confident we've made the right decision to require our students, faculty, and staff to abide by the COVID protocols in place.