MADISON — State Sen. Steve Nass says his office has been contacted by several University of Wisconsin-Whitewater parents outraged that some faculty have been attempting to force students to disclose their COVID-19 vaccination status.
In a letter to Interim Chancellor James Henderson, Nass wrote that in several instances, faculty have implied disclosing such information is required and in other instances faculty have offered extra credit to entice students to divulge their vaccination status. The Whitewater Republican said he has seen an excerpt from one faculty member’s communication to students “clearly pressuring the students to get vaccinated to receive extra-credit.”
Another student told the senator that a faculty member suggested students who fail to disclose would be treated like unvaccinated students. Nass said the student is prepared to drop the class because the instructor “made it obvious that unvaccinated students are not really welcome to receive instruction.”
“All of the parents and students that have contacted me are fearful of retribution from faculty and officials if they raise objections to this improper treatment at UW-Whitewater over Covid-19 vaccination status,” Nass wrote. “I must share with you my strong objections to any faculty member or official targeting unvaccinated students for pressure tactics or differential treatment based on vaccination status.”
Nass asks the chancellor take immediate action “to protect unvaccinated students from unfair and improper treatment by faculty or other campus officials.”
“I would strongly encourage you to communicate to the entire campus community that unvaccinated students are not to be treated unfairly or unnecessary efforts made to identify students based on their Covid-19 vaccination status,” the senator’s letter states.
A UW-Whitewater spokesman did not return a request for comment.
The allegations follow a reported incident of a Milwaukee High School teacher demanding her students take a survey on whether they had received a COVID-19 vaccination — and if not, why not.
The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty issued a letter to Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) Superintendent, Keith Posley and Rufus King High School Principal, Phyllis Anderson warning the teacher’s actions violate federal law.
Geometry teacher Kara Grier issued the survey on the first day of class, the Milwaukee-based civil rights law firm said in a statement. Students couldn’t skip the question on the survey.
“Although we are meeting face to face at this time, COVID is still very much a thing people worry about. Have you been vaccinated? If not, please give a brief reason why,” the survey question states, adding, “No judgement.”
“MPS must make clear that teachers cannot require students to answer questions about their political or religious beliefs or to divulge discussions with their physicians, including why they have or have not received the COVID-19 vaccine. Schools need to be mindful that federal law protects student privacy rights,” said Katherine Spitz, WILL associate counsel.