UNM vaccine requirement causes confusion for some students

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GALLUP, N.M. – A recent decision from the University of New Mexico is causing a lot of tension at the Gallup branch campus.

UNM is requiring its students to get vaccinated against COVID-19, but apparently that does not include dually-enrolled high school students.

The UNM Gallup faculty assembly recently sent a letter to provost James Holloway, saying in part they "reject" his exemption of more than 800 high school students from UNM’s vaccination mandate. They also said these students make up roughly half the student body attending in-person programs at the branch campus.

"We are not against our faculty, I appreciate their letter that they wrote to the provost, I agree with them that we need to encourage a vaccine mandate across the board, and we are 100% behind a vaccine-mandate,” said Lee Lamb, senior public relations specialist with UNM Gallup branch.

UNM officials said the problem with the mandate lies in its enforcement.

The provost responded to faculty members saying some students on campus are not taking any college courses at all, some don’t have Net IDs and none of them pay their own tuition or fees.

Some faculty members said that’s not the case.

"It’s surprising to me that a dual-enrolled student would not have a Net ID, that does not make any much sense to us,” said Dr. Cristyn L. Elder, secretary for UNM United Academics.

Dr. Rob Hunter, CEO of Middle College High School, one of the two dual-enrollment programs offered on the UNM Gallup campus, said their charter school was fully prepared to adopt a vaccine mandate.

"We had communicated it immediately and gotten all of the families notified that they needed to follow the mandate because we’re housed on the UNM campus, and our MOU says that students are required to follow the student code of conduct,” said Hunter.

KOB 4 got a hold of the memorandums of agreement for both Middle College High School and the Gallup McKinley County School District–which runs the other charter program on the UNM Gallup campus.

They both said that "dually-enrolled students at UNM are also governed by the UNM student code of conduct."

According to that code, the university is required to discipline students who do not comply with the covid-vaccination mandate.

"Right now, the administration is considering disenrollment if students aren’t vaccinated or have received an approved exemption by Sept. 30," said Elder.

UNM officials said they’ll revisit the vaccination mandate at the end of this month.