On Sept. 20, The Red & Black launched a survey for University of Georgia students, faculty and staff, collecting data on vaccination status and thoughts on campus vaccination and mask policies. The results showed a high vaccination rate among respondents and mixed feelings about the campus’s COVID-19 policy. A data breakdown of the responses can be found here.
From September 20-30, more than 4,300 participants completed the survey.
There are just over 50,000 students, faculty and staff at UGA, according to fall 2020 university data, meaning about 9% of the population completed the survey.
92% of the participants indicate that they have been fully vaccinated. About 2% followed the first two-dose vaccination and about 6% were unvaccinated.
Reactions about the University System of Georgia and UGA’s COVID-19 policies have been mixed.
About 48% of respondents said they felt unsafe on campus, while about 36% answered that they felt safe. The majority of students, faculty and staff who responded to the survey, about 69%, said they disagreed with the lack of a mask mandate on campus.
“The blatant disregard for the health and safety of our university community for the sake of the bottom line is a moral failure of the USG,” said a survey respondent.
“The fact that so many pros and collaborators are pushing to make covid vaccines mandatory proves a total lack of understanding of vaccines. It is also an individual choice to be vaccinated. It’s not the right decision for everyone’, says another respondent.
As of Nov. 2, masks are not required on UGA’s campus due to USG’s policy that bans mask mandates at Georgia public colleges and universities. Governor Brian Kemp also issued an executive order banning state entities, including USG, from carrying out vaccine mandates.
However, President Joe Biden issued an executive order on Sept. 9 stipulating that most federal contractors, including certain public university employees, must be fully vaccinated by Dec. 8.
A majority of survey participants disagreed with the lack of a mask mandate and about 22% agreed with the no-mask policy.
“I’m pro-vaccine and pro-mask-wearing, but I still think everyone should have a choice to do it or not. I support the current policy’, says one respondent.
A quarter of the respondents said they had previously tested positive for COVID-19. The rest said they have never tested positive for COVID-19.
Of the total survey participants, about 15% said they have underlying health conditions, which can increase the likelihood of a severe reaction to COVID-19.
The issue of masks and vaccines on campus has sparked controversy this fall, with protests taking place on campus at UGA and other USG institutions in mid-September calling for mask and vaccine requirements. These protests provoked counter-protesters, who called for optional masking and vaccination.
Some UGA professors have been clicking Twitter all semester to criticize USG’s current COVID-19 policy.
The American Association of University Professors, along with United Campus Workers of Georgia, coordinated the protests and used Twitter to promote them.