The result: Vaccine requirements can differ considerably depending on whether a school is in a Republican-led or Democratic-led state, or whether a student attends a public school or private one.
Even public universities within the same state can have different rules.
While Indiana University, in Bloomington, opted to mandate vaccines, Purdue University, a public school in West Lafayette, did not, instead requiring that students who were not vaccinated undergo regular testing.
The schools appear to be taking different paths, but both are pushing to get their students vaccinated, said Terry W. Hartle, senior vice president of the American Council on Education, an industry trade organization.
“The science is clear; it’s unambiguous,” Dr. Hartle said, adding that university presidents in many states have been forced to finesse their policies to avoid confrontation with state leaders and lawmakers.
“How do we get students vaccinated without creating a political firestorm that distracts from our ultimate goal?” Dr. Hartle said. “The goal is to get shots in arms.”
Students at the University of Wisconsin in Madison will not be required to be vaccinated, although the university says that it expects most will get one of the vaccines. Less than two hours away, at the private Marquette University in Milwaukee, students must get the vaccine.
In some places, confusion reigns. Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology, a public technical college in Lancaster, Pa., mandated the vaccine on May 22, then rescinded the mandate in June after the state’s General Assembly voted to limit mandates for coronavirus vaccines.