UCLA deans call for vaccine priority for California college students

Two UCLA deans argued in an op-ed that Califorinia's college students should have priority in getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

The professors argued that the Zoom classroom does not allow for much interaction.

In an essay published in the Los Angeles Times, two UCLA deans argued that California’s college students should have priority in getting the Covid-19 vaccine.

Law school dean Jennifer Mnookin and music school dean Eileen Strempel argued that California’s college students should have priority in getting the Covid-19 vaccine.

“Faculty, staff and students need to be given access to the vaccine sooner rather than later so that a full university life can resume in the fall,” they wrote, recommending that “students must also be part of the vaccine equation by summer.”

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Mnookin and Strempel do not think students necessarily need to be in line in front of the elderly, front-line workers, and those with an elevated health risk, but that the negative impacts of Covid-19 on college campuses provide enough reason to vaccinate them as soon as possible.

The video conference teaching model does not, they said, allow for the usual “high-density spaces where students and faculty interact inside and outside classrooms, laboratories, dorms and practice rooms.” And the current “low-density” campus model “cannot be the hub of intellectual intensity, the powerful collective place of invention and inquiry, nor fully inhabit its proven role as an engine of educational and economic activity.”

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Online teaching has also been harder on minority communities than others, they said, arguing that the "digital divide" has become apparent throughout Covid-19, and will be more so if online learning continues. 

And they hope returning students to campus will reverse "the estimated COVID-19 related economic losses through the end of 2020 (excluding the health system) topped $400 million."

Neither Strempel or Mnookin responded when asked for further clarification on the op-ed.

Follow the author of this article: Addison Pummill