Logan Hollar is a 22-year-old senior at Rutgers University. He’s spent the last few years working toward his diploma, and transferred to the New Jersey school in 2020 for his junior year. Because of COVID, he elected to take classes remotely last year from his home in Sandyston, New Jersey — 70 miles from Rugters’ New Brunswick campus, NJ.com reported.
The system worked out well for him, so he decided to do this same thing for his senior year and signed up for all virtual classes.
Hollar is also unvaccinated.
This is a problem for the higher-ups at Rutgers, which implemented a first-in-the-nation vaccine mandates for all students attending classes on campus — but not for staff or faculty — so they’ve banned him from attending any classes and locked him out of his school email account, even though he would be attending remotely and has no desire to step foot on campus.
Hollar, a psychology major, told NJ.com that he’s not vaxxed because he doesn’t want or need the vaccine.
“I’m not in an at-risk age group,” he told the outlet. “I’m healthy and I work out. I don’t find COVID to be scary. If someone wants to be vaccinated, that’s fine with me, but I don’t think they should be pushed.”
The problem, NJ.com reported, is that although Hollar was going to take only virtual classes, meaning he does not need to be on campus, he was not part of the school’s online program, which is the one part of the school that doesn’t require vaccines.
But according to Hollar, the school’s literature about vaccine requirements for on-campus classes was confusing at best.
“When they put out the guidance in March, I was reading through all the verbiage, which was if you plan to return to campus, you need to be vaccinated,” he said. “I figured I wouldn’t be part of that because all my classes were remote.”
In fact, he said he was able to access his email last month and actually switched out of a class on Aug. 6.
When asked about the vaccine via a survey from the school, Hollar told the outlet that he ticked a box to say that the vaccine didn’t apply to him since he would not be taking classes on campus.
“After submitting the survey, I got no pop-up indication that I still needed the vaccine — like I had seen in the past — and since I was online and the survey said I was all set, I assumed the emails in my inbox pertaining to (the vaccine) must apply to in-person students,” he said, according to NJ.com. “This turned out not to be the case.”
He said he discovered that his Rutgers accounts were locked when he went to pay his tuition Aug. 27. When he called the school that same day, he was reportedly told without explanation that he had to be vaccinated, even though he was going to be attending class virtually. However, one school representative told him he could request an exemption, NJ.com reported, though that would mean he’d miss three or more weeks of class even if his waiver were approved.
“Days later, I called back since I hadn’t received anything,” he told NJ.com. “They told me that unfortunately, they had decided that they would not grant waivers for anyone who had put in for them past Aug. 23, even though I was told that I could get one with no problem on the 27th.”
The school’s FAQ about student vaccinations, NJ.com said, says simply that its policy requires “all students to be fully vaccinated in advance of arriving on campus in the fall.”
Which suited Hollar just fine, considering he had no intention to ever visit the campus.
“I don’t care if I have access to campus,” he said. “I don’t need to be there. They could ban me. I just want to be left alone.”
Now he’s looking at transferring to another university to wrap up his degree.
Hollar’s stepfather, Keith Williams, was “dumbfounded” by the situation.
Williams, who is vaccinated, told the outlet, “I believe in science, I believe in vaccines, but I am highly confident that COVID-19 and variants do not travel through computer monitors by taking online classes.
“He chose to remove himself from an on-campus experience so he would not need to be vaccinated,” Williams added. “Now to be removed and shut down from his Rutgers email and online classes during the start of his senior year seems a bit crazy.”
A Rutgers spokeswoman defended the school’s position, telling NJ.com, “Since March, we have provided comprehensive information and direction to students to meet vaccine requirements through several communications channels, including our university websites, direct emails, and messages relayed throughout the registration and enrollment processes.
“Registering for classes that are fully remote (synchronous/asynchronous) is not the same as being enrolled in a fully online degree-granting program,” she added.