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Critics speak out after BSC requires unvaccinated students to pay $500 for weekly testing

(WTVY News 4)
Published: Jul. 30, 2021 at 4:57 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Some young Alabama republicans are objecting to Birmingham Southern College’s campus re-entry plan.

BSC’s COVID protocols for the upcoming fall semester allows vaccinated students to move in on August 22. Unvaccinated students are permitted to return on August 23. BSC protocol requires all students pay $500 to cover weekly COVID testing. Vaccinated students will be refunded. Unvaccinated students will not.

This week, the College Republican Federation of Alabama put out a media release criticizing the COVID fee and re-entry plan.

“This isn’t right. They are charging you $500 for being unvaccinated and they are having vaccinated student move in on different days. To me it seems like an invasion of privacy. Everyone will know if you are vaccinated or not when you move back on campus,” said Clint Reid, Chairman of the College Republican of Alabama.

Amy Bickers Abeyta, Assistant VP of Communications released the following statement on behalf of Birmingham Southern College:

“Birmingham-Southern College is offering several incentives to students who get the COVID vaccine, such as an early move-in date and a $500 rebate toward COVID testing fees.

Birmingham-Southern College does not require proof of vaccination to attend, to complete coursework, or participate in any activity. Not demonstrating vaccination does NOT impede a student’s progression or completion of coursework or educational attainment.

We had a highly successful and safe in-person, residential experience last year, thanks in large part to our robust testing protocols, and our students, faculty, and staff, who worked very hard to comply with protocols designed to keep our campus safe. We want to have an equally successful and safe in-person, residential experience in the coming year, and we believe the best way to ensure that is to encourage everyone who is eligible for the vaccine to get it and remain vigilant in our testing efforts.

Students do not have to tell us if they have been vaccinated. Therefore, we will not know whom to accommodate. In the interest of monitoring the spread of disease on our campus and the health of our students, faculty, and staff, we are requiring that everyone be tested and that everyone pay for these tests. Last year we were able to offer testing free of charge because we received federal funding to subsidize the cost.

If a student chooses to demonstrate to us that they have been vaccinated, we will not require for them to be tested. Because they do not have to be tested, we will not require them to pay for the tests of others. We are offering incentives such as early move-in and a $500 rebate on the COVID testing fee.

We will continue to monitor CDC, state, and local health officials’ guidance in determining how we can provide a safe learning environment for our students.”

The CRFA disagreed with BSC”s statement. “In our statement we called it a ransom. $500 is a lot for a college student, especially coming out of a pandemic. We see schools are trying to pressure students to do what the want and that is not right,” Reid said.

Reid and the federation says they understand the dangers of COVID and the need for vaccinations. The group is not opposed to those who want shots.

“We do encourage people to get vaccinated. We are not saying people shouldn’t be vaccinated but it’s a personal choice between a person and their doctor and the schools should not be intervening in this way,” Reid said.

The federation has ten chapters across Alabama on various campuses. Reid says he would welcome a meeting with Birmingham Southern officials. Reid some students have reached out Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall for clarification of issue.

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