Oct 26th, 2021, 01:12 PM

AUP Students Share Stance on COVID Vaccinations

By Christina Alvarez-Correa
Image credit: Adobe Stock/James Thew
Are 'Anti-Vax' views causing points of contention throughout campus?

Conflicting views on vaccinations throughout The American University of Paris have raised tensions across campus, creating riffs within friend groups and the classroom. The disparity of views regarding vaccination legitimacy and mandates have reflected the political divide that has shaken the globe in the past year.

Fall 2021 at AUP is the first semester to be entirely on-campus since the COVID-19 pandemic swept the globe. As a school composed of 101 nationalities, AUP has always embraced and acclimated to cultural differences, creating the cosmopolitan atmosphere it is known for. In understanding the differing views on vaccination, the question lies in whether it is a political stance or a cultural difference.

There have been claims that the vaccination mandate enforced by the French government is a sign of a rising totalitarian regime, and that refusal to receive vaccination is taking a stance for liberty and personal freedom. The argument is often boiled down to body autonomy, rather than acknowledging the issue of public safety. According to AUP’s health office, vaccinations are not required, but students must declare whether or not they are vaccinated. Their vaccination statuses are kept confidential.

COVID-19 anti-vaccination, or 'anti-vax', views are most affiliated with the right-winged conservative party, a rather taboo stance to take, especially at a liberal arts university in the heart of Paris. Although this connection almost always runs parallel, and the inextricable link is a telling factor in understanding one’s political views, several students at AUP feel that being anti-vax does not necessarily mean supporting limited government, but is instead connected to cultural traditions of homeopathy.   

Image credit: Unsplash/Philippe Bout


According to Alexandra Wittmeier, a fully vaccinated American Junior at AUP, all of her friends are vaccinated. From what she has observed at AUP, she believes the overall consensus is that vaccinations are safe and necessary, but there are a few outliers who share anti-vax views due to political or medical reasons. “People who don’t trust the safety of the vaccinations are ignoring the science that is clearly there. They focus on the misinformation that has been spread by right-winged media. I think people who are anti-vax are hesitant to be open about it due to the political connotations,” Wittmeier says.  

Many private and public universities have required students and faculty to receive the COVID-19 vaccination, and consider it as necessary as other vaccinations such as measles or mumps. AUP has published its requirements for completed immunization records that students must submit before entering the school, yet the COVID-19 vaccination does not appear. As over 1,000 colleges have now implemented a vaccination mandate for all students and faculty, students claim it odd that AUP has not enforced the same regulations.  

This begs the question, is AUP’s vaccination policy a way of avoiding political alignment with a certain party? University campuses are the breeding ground for progressive conversations, creating open dialogues amongst student bodies and capturing the youthful spirit of the rising generation. In this political climate of staggering divide, have vaccination views stunted the unprejudiced mindset of the multicultural student body?

Image credit: Unsplash/Mat Napo


Avery Harle, another fully vaccinated student graduating in Spring 2022 says she is open-minded and respects people’s views, yet she states, “I am someone who is anti-government, but we are all part of this system, and I felt that it was my duty as a citizen to get vaccinated to protect the health of those whose immune systems are compromised. I didn't do it for personal reasons, but to protect others as well as to make my social and political stance clear.” Harle knows several students who share anti-vax views, stemming from homeopathic views. “I sympathize with their views, but do not think they are justified in their stance. It is only hurting them and their community to not believe in science.” 

As the world continues to recover from almost two years of isolation, vaccinations will propel us into the normalcy of gatherings, travel and public safety. Navigating the post-COVID-19 world will bring out certain challenges and points of contention, even at the cosmopolitan campus of AUP.

If you are considering getting vaccinated, visit the CDC website for more information.