An important message from President Jonathan Becker to the AUCA community
December 3, 2021
Dear Faculty, Staff and Students of AUCA:
AUCA is a community. An essential part of being a community is the well-being of all community members. AUCA is also an educational institution and we are at our best when we meet each other on-campus and in person, when we can exchange ideas unmediated via zoom and other devices.
Covid has tested our community in many ways. In spite of amazing efforts of faculty, students and staff to adapt, it has separated us from each other, created distance, and cost us loved ones. While the entire community is to be applauded for its response, it is also the case that there has been a certain numbing to the implications of the virus that, with the recent outbreaks across the globe and the specter of Omicron, we can no longer afford to relax. Many higher education institutions, including AUCA partners, have been forced to go offline, and too many people across the globe are still losing their lives. If we want people to remain healthy, if we want what is best for the community, then we need to be more determined in our actions. We also need to honor science and have science inform our actions.
As such, we are implementing the following.
- Masks: All individuals inside AUCA’s educational facilities are mandated to wear masks indoors. With Omicron in particular, masks properly worn are the best defense against transmission. Thus, I am issuing these instructions:
- The Chief Operating Officer will coordinate with security to only let those wearing masks into the building. No one without a mask will be able to enter. The Vice President for Academic Affairs and the AUCA Faculty Senate will work with all faculty to honor a mask mandate for all classrooms.
- I am requesting that the Student Senate work with student leaders to promote the expected mask wearing in all but dining areas.
- Vaccines: The current vaccination rates in the AUCA community are alarmingly low, not even 30 percent. Approved vaccines, together with masks, are the best assurance against serious illness and transmission of Covid and the current rate suggests that we are not succeeding as educators and as a community. The overwhelming evidence from broad use of the vaccine across the globe is that the threat of the virus, even among people of the student age, far dwarfs the very limited risks associated with taking WHO approved vaccines. It is odd that in a world where we have tackled scourges such as polio and measles through vaccines that so many people demonstrate hesitancy. I urge you to view a talk offered earlier this term by Bard Professor Felicia Keesing: https://www.auca.kg/en/auca_news/4769/. Here are but a few of the things mentioned. Those vaccinated (depending on the vaccine) are:
- 8 times less likely to be infected
- Much less likely to transmit to others
- Much less likely to have long-term symptoms if infected
- 30 times less likely to be hospitalized
- 10 times less likely to die
- Incentives: In the coming days we will be announcing a series of measures to incentivize mask wearing and vaccines. These will include informational events, prizes and cash incentives. It is absolutely an institutional priority that we reach a goal of 90+ percent vaccination rate.
- Vaccine Availability and Health Information: We will be running a series of clinics on campus. Health Services will be putting together resources that help debunk some myths about the pandemic. This includes the myth that Covid does not impact the young (18-29 year olds). Perhaps this explains why our student-body has such low vaccination rates. The fact is that for every 100,000 young people with covid, 1,000 need to be hospitalized and 5,000 end up with long-term Covid symptoms. Moreover, young people with Covid infect family, friends and others, including teachers, with covid. Again, I encourage you to view Felicia Keesing’s talk on these issues: https://www.auca.kg/en/auca_news/4769/.
- Vaccine Safety: The overwhelming scientific consensus is that the impact of Covid is many times worse than the few negative reactions to vaccines. In a recent conversation with Human Resources at Bard, where more than 99 percent of faculty, staff, and students are vaccinated, there are no reports of a single case of a serious reaction to the covid vaccine within the community (such as one that would require hospitalization).
Further details and specifications concerning policies will be forthcoming.We are asking for your cooperation. AUCA is an incredibly caring community.
I know we all care deeply about the well-being of the community and all of its members. In this case, wearing masks and getting vaccines will help the entire community and hopefully give us the capacity to fulfill our educational mission.
I recognize that some people believe that such issues are personal choices, and that many have been impacted by disinformation concerning the virus. I urge you to put the well-being of yourselves and others first. In the end, the leadership of the institution needs to be guided by science and bears the responsibility for the welfare of the entire community. That is the path we must follow.
<< go to news list