I hope readers appreciate this follow up to my article previously posted here. Last Wednesday, November 2, I sent the following email to Wellesley College’s administration and bcc’ed the faculty who are members of Academic Council, which meets this Thursday, November 10.
Of the nearly 200 people who received this email, only one, a full professor, responded—only to make light of my concerns in the most patronizing terms. I point this out because it demonstrates how borderline Soviet the academy has become: not one person could actually engage with me, even if only to disagree respectfully.
I know there are people who received that email who do agree with me but who are—not without cause—too scared to say anything. Wellesley is one of the most prestigious colleges in the nation, a place where students are supposedly free to explore different ideas and speak our minds.
But if the professoriate is so closed off, so controlled by fear of social and administrative retribution, what does it mean for the rest of us? What formation are we receiving? What are we learning besides compliance?
I know that gossip about this email is circulating around the College, having heard some of that gossip myself. What all this talk translates into, I do not know. My biggest hope, besides repeal of the mandate, is that the students with whom I have been corresponding are able to keep up their morale, refuse further vaccination, and realize that they will have a greater stake in Wellesley’s future than just about anyone who is currently in power.
Tyranny of this sort will not last forever: only 58% of 2-17 year olds have received two shots of the vaccine, and this is the group that will be applying to colleges in the near future. Colleges may have been able to coerce students in the years 2021-2022, but attracting future students will be a more difficult challenge.
The dust will eventually settle. Places like Wellesley will eventually lose credibility for putting political expediency over student health and education, and for engaging in medical malpractice in the process. The only people who will have any credibility at that point will be the ones who opposed the pressure to conform to tyrannical mandates.
The more people who speak up—even anonymously—the better. It is preferable that the future of the College be shaped by community members who are invested in this place rather than unelected bureaucrats who are strangers to our campus. And while I write this about Wellesley College, my sentiment broadly applies to just about every other institution. It’s not too late to speak up; the future belongs to those who will.
I am a current student at Wellesley College, and I understand that a week from tomorrow on November 10th, there will be an Academic Council meeting. Before this meeting, you should read Dr. David McCune’s open letter to President Paula Johnson opposing, from a physician’s perspective, the College’s latest booster mandate for students. There has been no official response from the College to this essay, so I am emailing this to Senior Leadership with all of Academic Council (as listed on this webpage) bcc’ed in hopes that this is something Academic Council might discuss seeing its academic importance for every current and future student at Wellesley College.
As I am sure many of you are aware, there is a mandate for students to take the bivalent booster by December 1, midway through the semester, which was announced by Dean of Students Sheilah Shaw Horton on October 11, buried at the end of an email to students alone; the College did not inform parents of this new mandate, parents who may know family medical histories better than their children. This is the fourth vaccine the College is requiring students take in 18 months (who are low at risk by age profile alone) and after the CDC director herself has said the vaccine is ineffective at stopping transmission (nullifying any argument that the vaccine is a moral imperative to take because it is protecting others. It is not protecting others).
Moreover, we know now that the vaccine causes menstrual irregularities, something that should be of particular concern at Wellesley, and we also know that the vaccine also causes elevated rates of heart conditions such as myocarditis, which, once again, the CDC admits. Notice that I am not saying that these vaccines are categorically bad, just that reasonable people can make reasonably different risk assessments regarding whether or not to be vaccinated or boosted given the information we have available.
Despite less than 4% of the country [having] gotten this bivalent vaccine voluntarily, the College is forcing us to take it: perhaps there is a good reason 96% of Americans have made their own risk assessments the way they have, and students at Wellesley have the right to do the same, whether or not the College respects their right to choose.
Meanwhile, there are students at Wellesley who are currently experiencing vaccine injuries that come as a direct result of the mandate. There are students, even those who initially got the vaccines enthusiastically (as I did last year), even those who remain ardently pro-mandate, who are reporting longer and heavier menstrual periods, menstrual irregularities, heart tremors, and/or autoimmune conditions that were certifiably spurred by the vaccines.
Before making any assumptions about me, please consider how difficult it is for me to do any of this. I have not and am not being paid for this, nor have I gotten nor will I get any non-monetary recognition for this. Even though I remain anonymous because I know that putting my name on this will distract from the facts of the matter at hand, I am risking a lot (such as retaliation from the College over my speech) and have a full course load to keep up with. But the only alternative I see to doing this is that the College gets to continually violate our bodies with total impunity; members of the Wellesley College community continue not to say anything because the prospect of speaking up is too terrifying, because labels like “anti-vaxxer” get thrown around without any consideration as to whether or not it might be ableist or otherwise discriminatory for an institution with this much power and this much money to be able to force its medically diverse students — many of whom rely on the College for a safe space, for food and shelter, for financial aid, and for steady employment in addition to the credential of a bachelor’s degree itself — to take a treatment that they may not want to take for a variety of different reasons in order to stay enrolled, or to risk their futures by leaving this place.
While claiming to stand for leadership and speaking truth to power, Wellesley has given into a herd mentality that has overtaken the ability of this institution to make decisions that respect the basic human rights of the most vulnerable in the College’s charge. The students the College ostensibly molds into “women who will” have no real voice in a decision that involves their bodies. Your students have names and faces and hopes and dreams and desires to control their own lives and bodies, and while many of them do want to take another shot of the vaccine, many of them don’t. The latter deserve just as much respect as the former: no one should have to violate her conscience or her body because she is being coerced into doing so by an institution far bigger and far more powerful than she is, an institution that holds its boot over her head while it claims to fight for her rights as a woman to make her own decisions.
I hope you all think of this as an opportunity to do the right thing and the brave thing in a moment marked by fear and cowardice. All of you on the Academic Council have far more power than we do as students, especially those among you who are tenured or administrators, and especially those who know deep down that what the College is doing is wrong. I implore you to use this power to stand up for the dignity and autonomy of your students: whether or not the mandate stays in place, we students (and our families) deserve a response from the College as to why Senior Leadership has made the decision it has made.
Sincerely, Concerned Wellesley College student