MEMPHIS, Tenn. – – Students at Rhodes College who haven’t had their COVID-19 vaccine will likely have to pay a $1,500 fee each semester starting this fall.
The charge will begin once the FDA fully approves the COVID-19 vaccine, which Rhodes expects to happen this summer. Right now, the vaccine is only authorized for emergency use.
The college calls it a health and safety fee that is meant to cover the cost of weekly COVID testing unvaccinated students will have to undergo. Students reaction was mixed.
“Seems a little steep,” rising senior Andrew Gilchrist said.
Rising senior Adrian Pascotto also works at Rhodes and said the college did similar testing for all students this spring.
“I’ve heard the numbers of what each individual test costs and paying $1,500 is way less than what the test itself costs,” she said. “Looking at the budget and what we’ve spent I think it’s a fair decision.”
Rhodes says the fee will be waived for students with medical and religious exemptions.
In a statement, a Rhodes representative said, “A campus-wide commitment to vaccination will mean that we can move towards full capacity and reduced masking… Our community is very excited to get back to the robust campus experience returning students know and first-year students expect and (we) understand that encouraging vaccination makes this possible.”
Gilchrist is fully vaccinated and encourages others to get the shot.
“We’re in college. We want to have a college experience,” Gilchrist said.
He says he understands why some don’t want to get vaccinated.
“My personal opinion is when you build a country on free will and stuff like that people are going to have a hard time listening to some other authoritarian figure trying to tell you to do stuff,” Gilchrist said.
At this time, University of Memphis and UTHSC say they have no plans to issue similar mandates.