MSU professor says Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning is ‘disregarding science’ by banning vaccine mandates

STARKVILLE, Miss. (WCBI) – Friday, the Board of Trustees for Mississippi’s Institutions of Higher Learning voted to prohibit the state’s public universities from requiring their students and staff receive the COVID-19 vaccine, except in clinical settings.

This comes exactly one week after the Mississippi State Faculty Senate voted in favor of a vaccine mandate at the school.

“That a board of education is disregarding science is, for me, extremely concerning,” says Dr. Sol Pelaez, one of MSU’s faculty senators.

Dr. Pelaez is an associate professor who has taught at MSU for nearly 10 years. She says she is extremely disappointed by the IHL Board of Trustees’ decision, which she believes will stand in the way of making MSU a truly safe campus.

“I’m disappointed that IHL is not listening to its own members,” she says. “I’m also disappointed that IHL is not listening to the faculty of Mississippi in general.”

Dr. Pelaez says COVID continues to put an emotional and logistical strain on both her and her colleagues.

“(We’re) extremely anxious and nervous about having to teach in the classrooms without social distance, with students that comply with the mask (requirements) very imperfectly,” she says.

MSU’s faculty senate voted 20-15 in favor of a vaccine mandate. The most recent data from MSU 56 percent of students and 78 percent of their staff have reported being vaccinated.

Dr. Pelaez also says the threat of the virus is still disrupting classes.

“Right now, I have at least five different students that are awaiting (COVID test) results,” she says.

And while she is thankful for the safety protocols MSU has in place, the long-time educator says the IHL should enact other system-wide safety measures if they are banning vaccine mandates.

“Having protocols for football,” Dr. Pelaez gave as an example. “You can be vaccinated or prove that you have a negative test to go to an MSU game.”

Dr. Pelaez says that while she is vaccinated, she knows she could still spread COVID to her young son, who is not eligible for the shots.

“My son is not vaccinated, so my worry is for my family,” she says.

The Ole Miss Faculty Senate voted in favor of a vaccine mandate on September 7th.

The IHL Board of Trustees says it still strongly recommends all eligible students and staff take the vaccine.

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