In March 2021, Rutgers University made headlines by announcing a COVID-19 vaccination mandate for all students returning to campus in the fall. At that time, Rutgers was among the first universities in the United States to implement such a requirement, with other institutions following suit shortly after.

Fast forward to the present day, and Rutgers finds itself among the last prominent universities to drop the vaccine mandate. This decision has sparked criticism from New Jersey State Sen. Declan O’Scanlon, who represents Marlboro and has been vocal in his opposition to the mandate.

Sen. O’Scanlon has called Rutgers’ vaccination policy “absurd” and “irrational,” arguing that it lacks scientific justification. He has gone so far as to suggest that if Rutgers refuses to lift the mandate, the university should lose state funding. Additionally, O’Scanlon believes that students who choose not to attend Rutgers due to the vaccine mandate should be eligible for school aid to use at other institutions.

Rutgers, on the other hand, maintains that its vaccination policy is intended to minimize COVID-19 outbreaks and reduce the risk of transmission. The university requires all students to provide evidence of COVID-19 immunization before the beginning of the semester.

Despite the lifting of vaccine mandates by Gov. Phil Murphy in April 2023, Rutgers has opted to maintain its policy. Sen. O’Scanlon argues that this decision is out of touch with the current public health situation, citing other New Jersey colleges and universities that have lifted their vaccine mandates, including Kean University, Princeton University, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Seton Hall University, and The College of New Jersey.