Logan Hollar transferred to Rutgers University in 2020 spending his junior year taking virtual classes from his Sandyston home in Sussex County, more than 70 miles away from the New Brunswick campus. For this school year, as a senior, the psychology major decided to sign up for all virtual classes.
He hasn’t taken, and doesn’t want, the COVID vaccine. “I’m not in an at-risk age group. I’m healthy and I work out. I don’t find COVID to be scary,” said Hollar, 22. “If someone wants to be vaccinated, that’s fine with me, but I don’t think they should be pushed.”
Even though Hollar has all virtual classes, he’s not part of the online programs that don’t have a vaccine requirement. “When they put out the guidance in March, I was reading through all the verbiage, which was if you plan to return to campus, you need to be vaccinated,” Hollar said. “I figured I wouldn’t be part of that because all my classes were remote.”
Hollar said he completed a required survey about the vaccine. He checked a box that said the mandate didn’t apply to him, “which I believed to be the case,” he said, because he would be learning from home.
“After submitting the survey, I got no pop-up indication that I still needed the vaccine — like I had seen in the past. I assumed the emails in my inbox pertaining to (the vaccine) must apply to in-person students.”
He he went online to pay his tuition but he was locked out of his Rutgers email and related accounts. He called the university’s vaccine hotline, and a representative said he had to be vaccinated even if his classes were all remote.
Hollar said, he made multiple attempts to get answers about why he has to get the vaccine if he’s not on campus. One representative said Hollar could request an exemption, so he did. If accepted, it could take two to four weeks before he was reinstated, he said he was told. That would mean he’d miss three weeks of classes, or more.
“Days later, I called back since I hadn’t received anything. They told me that unfortunately, they had decided that they would not grant waivers for anyone who had put in for them past Aug. 23.”
Hollar has been unable to attend classes, which started Sept. 1.
According to Rutgers spokesperson Dory Devlin, “Since March, we have provided comprehensive information and direction to students to meet vaccine requirements through several communications channels.
Devlin also noted that Rutgers’ policy says: “Registering for classes that are fully remote is not the same as being enrolled in a fully online degree-granting program.”
“I find it concerning for the vaccine to be pushed by the university rather than my doctor,” Hollar said. “I’ll probably have to transfer to a different university.”
“I don’t care if I have access to campus. I don’t need to be there. They could ban me. I just want to be left alone.”