President Devereaux Fields Questions in Anti-Vaccination Town Hall

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Photo source: TIME Magazine. https://time.com/5542064/kelly-townsend-anti-vax/

In a June 19 article for the Washington Post, Lena H. Sun and Amy Brittain lay out the donation history of couple Lisa and Bernard Selz of, New York City, New York  in relation to growing anti-vaccination, also known as anti-vaxxer, movements growing in New York . While not linking the Selz couple to Goucher College, students quickly linked the names Lisa and Bernard Selz to Pagliaro Selz Hall, the oldest building in the newly-built First-Year Village. One response shared on the Gopher App came from junior Jeremy Bloch ‘21, who created a Change.org petition to “Change the Name of Goucher College’s Pagliaro Selz Hall to Florence B. Seibert Hall.”

Over the summer, Bloch began working with new President Kent Devereaux to coordinate a Town Hall to address the matter amongst the Center for Natural Sciences (CNS) community on campus. The Quindecim was copied on an email exchange between Bloch and President Devereaux early in September. In the weeks leading up to the Town Hall, I met up with Bloch and the GSG Co-Presidents Noah Block ‘21 and Sam Anderson ‘21 to discuss some background logistics. The Town Hall was eventually opened up to all members of the Goucher community via posts on Facebook class pages on September 15, the day before the event.

The Town Hall began with an opening backstory provided by the President, who described vaccinations as “settled science.” Beyond indicating that vaccinations are a “Public Health policy issue” that the Board of Trustees supports, religious exemptions are the only reason why faculty, staff, or students may opt-out of being vaccinated on campus. President Devereaux also cited that the class of 2023 is 100% vaccinated, including 15 individuals who had not previously been vaccinated.

From there, he pivoted to talking about Goucher as an institution of “liberal arts and sciences,” stressing his commitment to building the new $35 million science research center that will renovate and greatly expand the current Hoffberger Science building. He also described the issue in relation to the Selz couple as opening up conversations about how the College decides to accept funding and from whom, suggesting an impact investing as one avenue for pursuing values-driven investing policy. 

During the question-and-answer period of the event, President Deveraux made it clear that any public statement regarding the Selzes would be “premature,” and that he plans to meet with them individually in the coming months. 

Also discussed during this time was the importance of crafting a sustainability plan, Environmental and Social Governance, the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, and the importance of sharing student voices in public forums such as at Goucher Student Government meetings, which take place every Tuesday from 7-8pm on the bottom floor of the Ath across from Alice’s. 

 

Note: Neve Levinson is fully vaccinated and calls Washington state, the place where the most recent death related to measles has been documented, their home.

Neve Levinson is a junior majoring in Spanish and American Studies. They enjoy playing frisbee, reading the news, and learning about peacebuilding processes around the world. As the Editor-in-Chief of The Quindecim, they intend to document and address the many changes taking place on campus. What other pieces of news need to be covered? Want to write about it? (Or just tell them about it?) Email Neve at nelev001@mail.goucher.edu.

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