Proof of vaccine gives students a chance at a free semester

Last Thursday, Minnesota State University, Mankato’s Student Affairs announced their new incentive program to encourage students to receive their COVID-19 vaccine. To push this program, the University will be offering free t-shirts to everyone who shows proof of vaccination and there will be five students who will receive a free semester of tuition and fees. 

David Jones, Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, was one member of the team who thought of this program. 

“We decided to go with the two things students kind of respond to from our own experience.” 

Jones mentioned how the team wanted to include the t-shirt into the program to ensure everyone who shows proof of vaccination wins something. The semester’s tuition forgiveness was brought to attention to allow students to continue their education with one less thing to worry about, with the money coming from the HEERF federal funding program.

MNSU students seem to thoroughly enjoy this program and believe it will encourage their classmates to do their part and get vaccinated if they aren’t already. 

Samantha Haeder, a freshman at MNSU, didn’t know about the incentive beforehand but still believes it will be helpful.

“I think this is a good way for it because it’s not them requiring it but it still gives people who are getting the vaccine a good reward.”

Sadie Schulz, a sophomore, echoed this statement with her own, “I feel like it would be because who loves free stuff more than college students.”

Other students are looking at the program with a more critical lens, questioning if it will really be helpful or not. 

Sophomore Jessie Proell questions if others will really be intrigued by this incentive.

“I think it’s a really good idea, but I just don’t think people would do it because some people are so clung on to what they believe in that they wouldn’t change it for money. That’s what I personally think. I’m vaccinated, but if I wasn’t vaccinated I would be like ‘Yeah, put that in me right now,’” Proell stated. 

Aiden Gaines, a fourth year student knew about the incentive and had time to ponder over it.

“I’m also a student worker, technically, so I had to show my proof of vaccination anyways. I heard about this incentive and I think it would be better if they did something similar to I believe what our state did, or is still doing, where they gave just everyone who gets vaccinated like $100 flat because I think if someone sees a giveaway they just think ‘I’m not gonna win that’ so it’s not as much as an incentive. If a semester’s $4,000 in tuition and you give that to five people, that’s a lot of money that they could split up. I would recommend something like that.”

MNSU does have a high percentage of students who are already vaccinated, or have at least one dose of the shot. Jones mentioned that as of Sept 20, 60.4% of MN resident students have received at least one dose of the vaccine. 

Jones continued with, “Of our student employees, who have been a part of the proof of vaccine for the last couple of weeks here, they’re at 85% vaccine rate.”

After less than a week following the announcement, Jones and other team members have seen a positive reaction to the program along with some clarification questions.

“Some of the students are asking ‘How can I confirm that I’m eligible for the drawing?’ 48 hours after they turn in their proof of vaccine, whether it’s through eservices or directly uploading it to their Patient Portal, you can go in there and see if the immunizations have been updated and that would indicate that you’re all good to go.”

As stated on the email sent out by the MNSU Student Affairs, drawings for the free semester tuition and fees will be picked on Nov. 1 with one winner, Dec. 1 with two winners, and Jan. 10 with two winners. 

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